INVESTIGATING SKILL ACQUISITION IN THE ABSENCE OF PHYSICAL PRACTICE: MOTOR IMAGERY-BASED SKILL ACQUISITION AND THE ROLE OF THE INFERIOR PARIETAL LOBULE
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Motor imagery (MI), the mental rehearsal of movement, is a useful adjunct to physical practice (PP) in numerous domains and shows promise for post-stroke rehabilitation. However, it is unknown if MI alone can produce robust learning without prior PP. To date, the impact of stroke-related brain damage on MI-based skill acquisition has yet to be addressed. The objective of the current work, addressed via two experiments, was to characterise MI-based skill acquisition with and without brain damage. Experiment One demonstrated that MI facilitated skill acquisition independent of PP. Experiment Two demonstrated that inhibition of a parietal region, commonly affected post-stroke, impaired MI-based learning. Therefore, this region is likely critical for MI performance and thus MI-based skill acquisition. Ultimately, these findings support the use of MI as a form of practice and inform on the application of MI in skill acquisition in both non-disabled individuals and those with neurological injury.