Sensory-guided motor tasks benefit from mental training based on serial prediction

Ellen Binder, Klara Hagelweide, Ling E Wang, Katja Kornysheva, Christian Grefkes, Gereon R Fink, Ricarda I Schubotz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mental strategies have been suggested to constitute a promising approach to improve motor abilities in both healthy subjects and patients. This behavioural effect has been shown to be associated with changes of neural activity in premotor areas, not only during movement execution, but also while performing motor imagery or action observation. However, how well such mental tasks are performed is often difficult to assess, especially in patients. We here used a novel mental training paradigm based on the serial prediction task (SPT) in order to activate premotor circuits in the absence of a motor task. We then tested whether this intervention improves motor-related performance such as sensorimotor transformation. Two groups of healthy young participants underwent a single-blinded five-day cognitive training schedule and were tested in four different motor tests on the day before and after training. One group (N=22) received the SPT-training and the other one (N=21) received a control training based on a serial match-to-sample task. The results revealed significant improvements of the SPT-group in a sensorimotor timing task, i.e. synchronization of finger tapping to a visually presented rhythm, as well as improved visuomotor coordination in a sensory-guided pointing task compared to the group that received the control training. However, mental training did not show transfer effects on motor abilities in healthy subjects beyond the trained modalities as evident by non-significant changes in the Jebsen-Taylor handfunctiontest. In summary, the data suggest that mental training based on the serial prediction task effectively engages sensorimotor circuits and thereby improves motor behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-27
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

© 2013 Published by Elsevier Ltd.


  • Adult
  • Auditory Perception
  • Cognition
  • Female
  • Hand
  • Humans
  • Learning
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Time Perception
  • Transfer, Psychology
  • Visual Perception
  • Young Adult


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