The effects of combined action observation and motor imagery on corticospinal excitability and movement outcomes: Two meta-analyses

Samantha Chye, Ashika Chembila Valappil, David J Wright, Cornelia Frank, David A Shearer, Christopher J Tyler, Ceri E Diss, Omar S Mian, Neale A Tillin, Adam M Bruton

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Motor simulation interventions involving motor imagery (MI) and action observation (AO) have received considerable interest in the behavioral sciences. A growing body of research has focused on using AO and MI simultaneously, termed 'combined action observation and motor imagery' (AOMI). The current paper includes two meta-analyses that quantify changes in corticospinal excitability and motor skill performance for AOMI compared to AO, MI and control conditions. Specifically, the first meta-analysis collated and synthesized existing motor evoked potential (MEP) amplitude data from transcranial magnetic stimulation studies and the second meta-analysis collated and synthesized existing movement outcome data from behavioral studies. AOMI had a positive effect compared to control and AO but not MI conditions for both MEP amplitudes and movement outcomes. No methodological factors moderated the effects of AOMI, indicating a robust effect of AOMI across the two outcome variables. The results of the meta-analyses are discussed in relation to existing literature on motor simulation and skill acquisition, before providing viable directions for future research on this topic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104911
JournalNeuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


  • Humans
  • Imagination/physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal/physiology
  • Evoked Potentials, Motor/physiology
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
  • Movement
  • Pyramidal Tracts/physiology

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