Monday, July 28, 2008

Learning by Doing and Thinking

Here's more evidence that the most efficient way to learn a motor task is combine mental (imagery) training with motor training. It's not enough to show. Imagery training involved having students visualize the actions before practicing them. Combined mental and motor training resulted improved accuracy and speed. fMRI studies showed that the fusiform cortex especially benefited from mental training.

Imagery instruction is fairly commonplace among high level sports trainers, but perhaps more imagery should be considered in all levels and many types of education. Obvious hands-on or procedural activities - technical disciplines or careers come to mind (engineering, music, art), but also many tasks that require doing - could also benefit, like handwriting, any multi-stepped problem solving or procedures, in addition to day-to-day organization tasks like remembering what to pack for school or work, or putting together a complex project.

An unexpected result of the study was that combined motor and imagery training resulted in better performance on an untrained task (motor only or imagery only did not). This is good news - the more that imagery and sensory-motor systems are in-sync, the better for all sorts of doing tasks.

BTW, if you've seen The Music Man, this is not so far off from Harold Hill's Think idea for creating a boy's band.

Learning by doing and learning by thinking
Picture from The Music Man

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