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07-09-2016 | Original Article | Uitgave 6/2017

Psychological Research 6/2017

Do experts see it in slow motion? Altered timing of action simulation uncovers domain-specific perceptual processing in expert athletes

Psychological Research > Uitgave 6/2017
Carmelo M. Vicario, Stergios Makris, Cosimo Urgesi
Belangrijke opmerkingen
S. Makris contributed equally to this work.


Accurate encoding of the spatio-temporal properties of others’ actions is essential for the successful implementation of daily activities and, even more, for successful sportive performance, given its role in movement coordination and action anticipation. Here we investigated whether athletes are provided with special perceptual processing of spatio-temporal properties of familiar sportive actions. Basketball and volleyball players and novices were presented with short video-clips of free basketball throws that were partially occluded ahead of realization and were asked to judge whether a subsequently presented pose was either taken from the same throw depicted in the occluded video (action identification task) or temporally congruent with the expected course of the action during the occlusion period (explicit timing task). Results showed that basketball players outperformed the other groups in detecting action compatibility when the pose depicted earlier or synchronous, but not later phases of the movement as compared to the natural course of the action during occlusion. No difference was obtained for explicit estimations of timing compatibility. This leads us to argue that the timing of simulated actions in the experts might be slower than that of perceived actions (“slow-motion” bias), allowing for more detailed representation of ongoing actions and refined prediction abilities.

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