AbstractThere is strong evidence that focussing on the goal of an action improves performance relative to focussing on the concrete motor behaviours. The current study tests whether blind action guided by imagery relies on the same foci of attention. Thirty female participants took part in an experiment. In each condition there were 20 trials, they were asked to close their eyes and draw a straight line between two landmarks on a graphics tablet. We instructed them, in three conditions, to focus on (1) mental imagery of the goal landmark (external focus of attention), (2) drawing a straight line with the fingers (internal focus), or (3) without a specific focus of attention (control). We tested to what extent these attention instructions affected drawing performance, in terms of both deviations of the participants’ lines from an ideal straight line, and the time it took to complete the line. The study revealed that the manipulation specifically affected the deviation measure and that an external focus of attention was better than an internal focus and the control condition. These findings reveal that that mental imagery during blind action relies on same processes as actual performance. These data give perceptual representations of a direct role in motor control. They will be related to current theories of action control (constrained action hypothesis, ideomotor theories, and dual task accounts).
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