New Evidence for the Value of Mental Rehearsal
Skiiers at the Olympics mentally go through their run or a ski jump prior to competing, as do the figure skaters, and other athletes. Perhaps they have even rehearsed listening to their national anthem on the podium and visualized receiving a medal. We often mentally play out difficult conversations before we engage the person in question, or practice a piano piece on the edge of a table. It is probably not surprising that we engage in mental preparation, including rehearsing the task in question, but there is fascinating new research that connects mental rehearsal with real-world performance. Researchers at Stanford have shown that monkeys, trained with a brain-computer interface, could transfer that learning to the real world, even though they had never physically performed the action. When the researchers recorded neural activity when the monkeys were using the machine-brain interface, they could see the pattern of activity occurring in just the right spot so that it would translate to physical movements.