The differences among participants of various ages in their ability to use mental practice for motor skill acquisition have not been examined to date. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of age on mental practice. Participants were divided into 3 age groups: children, adults, and older adults; each group was randomly subdivided into physical and mental-physical practice groups. The results indicated that mental practice affected the 3 age groups differently. Mental practice in the acquisition phase of bimanual coordination task was found to be beneficial for children and older adults only. In the retention phase, this benefit was confined to older adults. Adults in the mental-physical and physical practice groups did not differ in performance of the acquired task. These findings indicate that at both ends of our lives in childhood and old age-we benefit more from mental practice. Mental practice was especially beneficial for older adults regarding their retention process.
- Motor learning