Mental imagery: Rehabilitation through simulation

Santo di Nuovo, Vivian de la Cruz, Daniela Conti, Serafino Buono, Alessandro di Nuovo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mental Imagery can be defined both as a reproduction of cognitive contents of the mind not actually present to sensorial perception, and as the re-elaboration and interpretation of the original perceived data. Motor and athletic rehabilitation and recovery after injuries or traumas, especially in sports, but more generally in physiotherapeutic practice, have shown to be enhanced by mental imagery processes. Mental imagery has been assumed to be essential for the acquisition of motor skills, but to also be relevant in the involutive phases of adult cognition. In fact, empirical studies indicate that different components of imagery are selectively affected by aging. This review discusses the neuropsychological bases of mental imagery, focusing on its possible applications to the rehabilitation of deficits from a variety of different causes, including mental deterioration in the elderly. Simulation techniques, and how they might assist in the accurate assessment of mental imagery skills in order to design optimal learning and/or training interventions, or rehabilitation of motor gestures, are also presented.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-118
Number of pages30
JournalLife Span and Disability
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Mental imagery
  • Motor skills
  • Rehabilitation
  • Simulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Life-span and Life-course Studies
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Health(social science)


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