Relationship between mental rotation of body parts and postural stability during quiet stance

Tsubasa Kawasaki, Kazuhiro Yasuda, Kazunobu Fukuhara, Takahiro Higuchi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The present study was designed to investigate a relationship between the ability to quickly perform a mental rotation (MR) task using body (particularly foot) stimuli and postural stability during unipedal and bipedal quiet stance. Twenty-four healthy young adults participated in this study to measure reaction times for the MR (stimuli: foot, hand, and car), postural sway values during unipedal and bipedal standings, and lower extremity functions. Results showed significant correlations between the reaction time for the MR of the foot stimuli (but not for hand and car stimuli) and some of postural sway values (total length of sway and mean velocity in the anterior-posterior direction) during unipedal standing (but not for bipedal standing). Consistently, participants who performed the MR task quickly showed significantly smaller sway values during unipedal standing than those who performed the task slowly. These findings suggest that the ability to mentally imagine the foot movement is likely to relate to postural stability, while involving a challenging postural task, such as unipedal standing. The reaction time for the MR of foot stimuli was also correlated with two-point discrimination (TPD) distance on the plantar skin. Given that the TPD distance not only represents cutaneous acuity but also reflects participants' body image relating to their feet, MR performance may have been related to postural stability because both involve cognitive processes used for both motor imagery and motor execution of the foot movement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-46
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Imagery Research in Sport and Physical Activity
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jan 1


  • Mental rotation
  • Motor imagery
  • Postural stability
  • Reaction time
  • Unipedal standing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Applied Psychology


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