Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Learning by imagining: How mental imagery training aids perceptual learning

Date:
December 4, 2009
Source:
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
Summary:
Practice makes perfect. But imaginary practice? Scientists show that perceptual learning -- learning by repeated exposure to a stimulus -- can occur by mental imagery as much as by the real thing. The results suggest that thinking about something over and over again could actually be as good as doing it.

This is Elisa Tartagalia from EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland, with her experiment proving that learning through mental imagery is possible.
Credit: Alain Herzog/EPFL

Practice makes perfect. But imaginary practice? Elisa Tartaglia of the Laboratory of Psychophysics at Switzerland's Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) and team show that perceptual learning -- learning by repeated exposure to a stimulus -- can occur by mental imagery as much as by the real thing. The results, published in Current Biology, suggest that thinking about something over and over again could actually be as good as doing it.

Related Articles


"When trained, radiologists are able to detect anomalies on medical images which are extremely hard to detect for untrained people," Tartaglia says. "The results of our study would predict that mental imagery training, hence, repeatedly mentally visualizing the anomalies that one wants to detect, would be sufficient to become able to detect them."

In a series of experiments, the scientists asked some participants to practice identifying which line, the right or the left in a series of parallel lines, a central line was closest to and to identify it by pushing the correct button. In follow-up, "post-training" exercises, these participants improved their baseline performance significantly. But so did another set of volunteers who, instead of practicing with all three lines in training, were instead asked to imagine the bisecting line's proximity based on an audio tone. This group also improved their performance significantly in further testing, meaning that "imagery training" was sufficient for perceptual learning.

Some experts question the relevance of mental imagery in this kind of learning, which is generally assumed to be driven by stimulus processing -- synapses firing in response to a physical cue. Here, the researchers show that perceptual learning can also occur by mental imagery, i.e., in the absence of physical stimulation. The results help shine a light on what has been an ongoing puzzle in the field and suggest an overlap in how -- and possibly where -- mental imagery affects perceptual learning.

The authors include Elisa M. Tartaglia, Laboratory of Psychophysics, Brain Mind Institute, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland; Laura Bamert, Laboratory of Psychophysics, Brain Mind Institute, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland, and Institut de Psychologie, Universite de Lausanne (UNIL), Switzerland; Fred W. Mast, Department of Psychology, University of Bern, Switzerland; Michael H. Herzog, Laboratory of Psychophysics, Brain Mind Institute, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. "Learning by imagining: How mental imagery training aids perceptual learning." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 December 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091203132153.htm>.
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. (2009, December 4). Learning by imagining: How mental imagery training aids perceptual learning. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091203132153.htm
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. "Learning by imagining: How mental imagery training aids perceptual learning." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091203132153.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) — In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) — A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) — Harvard researchers found children whose mothers were exposed to high pollution levels in the third trimester were twice as likely to develop autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) — Yoga can help your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart just as much as biking and walking does, a new study suggests. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins