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Authors: Sickler, Trey
Advisors: Norman, Kenneth A.
Mennen, Anne
Department: Neuroscience
Class Year: 2018
Abstract: Using simplified volleyball game scenarios in a controlled joystick task, this study sought to examine the effectiveness of mental practice, or the implementation of mental imagery to simulate training, in improving behavioral performance in the face of novel variants to originally trained scenarios. We found that experimental groups engaging in actual training and mental practice both performed significantly more accurately against variants than our control group and did not perform significantly differently from each other. This study also employed functional magnetic resonance imaging pattern classification techniques to investigate the patterns and level of neural distinguishability associated with motor imagery. We found classification accuracy to be maximized when focusing exclusively on the primary somatosensory cortex and when including all motor-imagery associated areas, with both strategies yielding significantly above chance classification for both actual and imagined movements, especially the former. Our results indicate that mental practice can in fact serve as an effective training regimen for improving performance in the face of novel variant scenarios, that the primary motor and primary somatosensory cortices are areas of particularly discernibility between movements, and that region of interest masks based on each as well as based on all imagery-associated regions are particularly promising for future evaluations of the role of neural competition in driving this observed behavioral enhancement.
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Neuroscience, 2017-2020

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