ORCID Identifier(s)


Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Kinesiology



First Advisor

Priscila M Tamplain


Motor imagery (MI) refers to the imagination of a motor task without actual movement execution (Decety & Grézes, 2006) and is believed to represent one’s ability to accurately utilize forward internal models of motor control (Williams et al., 2006). Moreover, MI seems to rely on a network involving motor related regions including fronto-parietal areas and subcortical structures, supporting the view that MI and motor execution are very similar processes (Hétu et al., 2013). This ability has been shown to emerge between 5 and 7 years of age and improve during childhood and adolescence (Molina, Tijus, & Jouen, 2008; Spruijt, van der Kamp, & Steenbergen, 2015). The fine tuning of MI development is commonly observed by 9 years of age (Caeyenberghs, Tsoupas, Wilson, & Smits-Engelsman, 2009) and throughout adolescence (Smits-Engelsman & Wilson, 2013; Skoura, Vinter, & Papaxanthis, 2009). Additionally, to date, most studies addressing MI ability have used the mental rotation (Adams, Lust, Wilson, & Steenbergen, 2017) and mental chronometry (Dahm & Rieger, 2016) paradigms while little research has been done to investigate MI ability through other perspectives, such as accuracy and vividness via questionnaires. Therefore, there is a void in current research literature to where little is known about the development of these perspectives of MI ability across the lifespan and MI’s association with motor proficiency. Study 1 (Chapter 2) investigates age differences in components of MI ability and the association of motor proficiency. This study investigates differences of MI ability between children (n = 101) and young adults (n = 140) and the potential association of motor proficiency. Advanced statistical methods were used to compared differences between groups and to determine which dependent variables contributed to the differences. Results indicated that young adults were significantly more accurate and rated their MI significantly more vivid across all subscales in MI ability when compared to children. Furthermore, between-subject effects for MI accuracy showed that young adults had higher scores than children on three of the four subscales and the action subscale significantly predicted motor proficiency. Additionally, studies have shown that children with Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), a condition defined by problems in motor coordination, experience problems with tasks thought to rely on internal models of motor control. Study 2 (Chapter 3) compared components of MI ability between typically developing (TD, n = 51) and children with DCD (n= 42). Results indicated that children with DCD were significantly less accurate than TD children, but there were no significant differences in vividness. The findings of these investigations provide crucial insight into the development of MI ability and the association between MI ability and motor proficiency. Developing a better understanding of MI ability and the associated effects of MI deficits on an individual’s motor proficiency can help improve motor skill interventions. Future investigations should further explore the development of MI ability into middle-aged and older adults and the unique characteristics of both components of MI ability. In addition, validating the Florida Praxis Imagery Questionnaire (FPIQ; Ochipa et al., 1997) should be conducted in order to ensure that this questionnaire is appropriately capturing MI accuracy. Lastly, further investigation into the subscales and their potential relationship with MI ability and motor proficiency could help create better motor imagery training.


Motor imagery ability, Accuracy, Vividness, Children, Young adults


Kinesiology | Life Sciences


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington

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Kinesiology Commons