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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2018, Article ID 7235872, 8 pages
Research Article

Functional Role of Internal and External Visual Imagery: Preliminary Evidences from Pilates

1Department of Movement Sciences and Wellbeing, University “Parthenope”, Via Medina 40, 80133 Naples, Italy
2Department of Biotechnological and Applied Clinical Sciences, University of L’Aquila, Via Vetoio (Coppito 2), 67100 L’Aquila, Italy
3Department of Engineering, University “Parthenope”, Centro Direzionale, Isola C4, 80143 Naples, Italy
4Istituto di Diagnosi e Cura Hermitage Capodimonte, Via Cupa delle Tozzole 2, 80131 Naples, Italy
5Institute of Applied Sciences and Intelligent Systems, CNR, Via Campi Flegrei 34, 80078 Pozzuoli, Naples, Italy
6Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences, “Magna Graecia” University of Catanzaro, Viale Europa, 88100 Catanzaro, Italy
7IRCCS Fondazione Santa Lucia, Via del Fosso di Fiorano 64, 00143 Rome, Italy

Correspondence should be addressed to Laura Mandolesi; ti.eponehtrapinu@iselodnam.arual

Received 24 October 2017; Revised 19 February 2018; Accepted 19 March 2018; Published 15 April 2018

Academic Editor: Thierry Pozzo

Copyright © 2018 Simone Montuori et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The present study investigates whether a functional difference between the visualization of a sequence of movements in the perspective of the first- (internal VMI-I) or third- (external VMI-E) person exists, which might be relevant to promote learning. By using a mental chronometry experimental paradigm, we have compared the time or execution, imagination in the VMI-I perspective, and imagination in the VMI-E perspective of two kinds of Pilates exercises. The analysis was carried out in individuals with different levels of competence (expert, novice, and no-practice individuals). Our results showed that in the Expert group, in the VMI-I perspective, the imagination time was similar to the execution time, while in the VMI-E perspective, the imagination time was significantly lower than the execution time. An opposite pattern was found in the Novice group, in which the time of imagination was similar to that of execution only in the VMI-E perspective, while in the VMI-I perspective, the time of imagination was significantly lower than the time of execution. In the control group, the times of both modalities of imagination were significantly lower than the execution time for each exercise. The present data suggest that, while the VMI-I serves to train an already internalised gesture, the VMI-E perspective could be useful to learn, and then improve, the recently acquired sequence of movements. Moreover, visual imagery is not useful for individuals that lack a specific motor experience. The present data offer new insights in the application of mental training techniques, especially in field of sports. However, further investigations are needed to better understand the functional role of internal and external visual imagery.