Online corrections can occur within movement imagery: An investigation of the motor-cognitive model


The motor-cognitive model proposes that movement imagery relies upon the conscious monitoring and generation of an image, while it negates the simulation of online corrections owing to an absence of veridical sensory feedback. With this in mind, it is predicted that there would be a comparatively limited ability for individuals to update or correct movement imagery as they could within execution. To investigate, participants executed and imagined target-directed aiming movements featuring either an unexpected target perturbation (Exp. 1) or removal of visual sensory feedback (Exp. 2). The results revealed that a perturbation to the target position caused a significantly more prolonged movement time compared to when there was no perturbation (control). Meanwhile, the blocked removal of visual feedback caused a significantly more prolonged reaction time compared to when the visual feedback was always present. However, most importantly, the effects manifesting from each of these online visual manipulations unfolded relatively equally for executed and imagined movements. Thus, contrary to some of the tenets of the motor cognitive model, movement imagery holds the capacity to interpolate online corrections despite the absence of veridical sensory feedback. We offer possible explanations surrounding these findings including the use of minor efferent outflow and/or forward models to emulate sensory feedback within movement imagery.