Background: Mental training can be beneficial when learning new motor skills. Objective: To evaluate whether a combination of physical and mental training can replace physical training. Methods: Sixty dental students were randomly divided into six groups, which were assigned different regimens of physical and mental training: A. 75% mental 25% physical; B. 50% mental 50% physical; C. 75% physical 25% mental; D. 100% mental; E. 100% physical; F. control, no practice. The physical training comprised eight different tasks performed on the Purdue Pegboard: four tasks with direct vision (PD) and four tasks with indirect vision (PIND). The mental training involved listening to a recording explaining the actions to be performed. The tests were performed twice: T0, before training; and T1, at 24 h after training. The non-parametric Mann–Whitney test was used to detect differences between the groups. Changes between T0 and T1 within a group were analysed by Wilcoxon signed-rank test. Results: There were no significant differences between the groups at T0. At T1, members of Groups A, B, C, and E had improved at five to eight tasks, while Groups D and F had improved at two tasks. Notably, Group D improved in the assembly tasks. Ranking the extent of improvement at T1, indicated that For PD Groups B, E > F, D while for PIND B, C, E > A, F and E > D. Conclusion: Substituting some physical training by mental training can provide similar improvements in fine motor skills, although the optimal combination remains to be determined. Mental training may be more effective for cognitive tasks.
- mental training
- motor skills
- physical training
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