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Article Dans Une Revue European Journal of Sport Science Année : 2017

Neural mechanisms of strength increase after one-week motor imagery training


The neural mechanisms explaining strength increase following mental training by motor imagery (MI) are not clearly understood. While gains are mostly attributed to cortical reorganization, the sub-cortical adaptations have never been investigated. The present study investigated the effects of MI training on muscle force capacity and the related spinal and supraspinal mechanisms. Eighteen young healthy participants (mean age: 22.5±2.6) took part in the experiment. They were distributed into two groups: a control group (n=9) and an MI training group (n=9). The MI group performed seven consecutive sessions (one per day) of imagined maximal isometric plantar flexion (4 blocks of 25 trials per session). The control group did not engage in any physical or mental training. Both groups were tested for the isometric maximal plantar flexion torque (MVC) and the rate of torque development (RTD) before and after the training session. In addition, soleus and medial gastrocnemius spinal and supraspinal adaptations were assessed through the recording of H-reflexes and V-waves, with electrical stimulations of the posterior tibial nerve evoked at rest and during MVC, respectively. After one week, only the MI training group increased both plantar flexion MVC and RTD. The enhancement of muscle torque capacity was accompanied by significant increase of electromyographic activity and V-wave during MVC and of H-reflex at rest. The increased cortical descending neural drive and the excitability of spinal networks at rest could explain the greater RTD and MVC after one week of MI training.
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Dates et versions

hal-01681202 , version 1 (11-01-2018)



Sidney Grosprêtre, Thomas Jacquet, Florent Lebon, Charalambos Papaxanthis, Alain Martin. Neural mechanisms of strength increase after one-week motor imagery training. European Journal of Sport Science, 2017, pp.1 - 10. ⟨10.1080/17461391.2017.1415377⟩. ⟨hal-01681202⟩
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