Mental practice is associated with learning the relative, but not absolute, timing dimension of a task
Learning about the relative timing dimension of a motor skill is enhanced by factors that promotes higher response stability between trials. Conversely, learning the absolute timing dimension is favored by lower trial-to-trial stability. Mental practice may increase response stability during acquisition, since there is low possibility of adjustments made between trials. Thus, the aim of this study was to the hypothesis that some factors that increase response stability during acquisition phase contributes to an enhanced relative timing dimension learning. Our hypothesis was that mental practice is strongly and positively associated with learning the relative timing dimension. A sequential key-pressing task was practiced with two goals: learn (1) relative timing dimension and (2) absolute timing dimension. Participants were assigned to one of three groups: Physical, Mental or No practice. The Physical group showed greater learning of both dimensions, than the other two groups. The Mental group showed greater learning of relative timing dimension than the No practice group. The results suggest that mental practice produces increased stability, which in turn promotes learning of the relative timing dimension.