Scientific Benefits of Visualization for Students

Jared Cooney Horvath is a globally recognized Science of Learning expert committed to helping teachers, students and parents achieve better outcomes through applied brain and behavioral science.

Let's Get Visual ...

In the realm of sports, using mental visualization to enhance training and boost performance has long been a popular practice.


For years, elite athletes like Michael Phelps, Conor McGregor and Ronaldo have leveraged visualization to maintain a competitive edge over their peers.


However, more and more people are beginning to appreciate the many benefits that activating the ‘mind’s eye’ can deliver beyond the playing field.


In education, we still have much to learn about this phenomenon … but what we have discovered thus far is quite promising.


For example, numerous studies have shown that visualization may help students perform better across a range of important academic skills such as reading comprehension, learning retention and abstract thinking.


In my newest From Theory to Practice video, I explore a piece of research that can help us dive a deeper into this topic (which happens to be one of my personal favorites):


Motor Imagery as a Method of Maintaining Performance in Pianists (Anna Christakou et al, 2019)


Here are some of the questions I tackle in this installment:

  • To what degree is learning and neuroplasticity impacted by mental visualization versus overt physical practice?

  • What is covert activation, and why might it help explain large performance gaps observed among otherwise similar students?

  • What are three strategic takeaways from this research that can help teachers across all contexts strengthen their pedagogical approach?

Give it a watch, and let me know what you think in the YT comments section.


And, as always, if you find this video valuable, interesting and/or entertaining, you can support us by liking, sharing and subscribing to our YouTube channel ;)



Video Transcript

Hello everybody, and welcome to this week's From Theory to Practice, where I take a look at the research so you don't have to.


The article I've selected this week is called Motor Imagery as a Method of Maintaining Performance in Pianists by Christakou and colleagues.


Now, to understand this paper, we first have to come to terms with covert activation. To understand what this is, I want to outline a quick research study that was done back in 1995 -- I think it highlights this idea perfectly.


So, what these researchers did is they asked one group of individuals to spend two hours a day practicing a very simple five finger piano test -- just a little song that they could play with five fingers -- and every day after practice these researchers would map the part of the brain that corresponded to those fingers …

Click to view remainder of the transcript ...

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