Neural underpinnings of superior action prediction abilities in soccer players.

Stergios Makris, Cosimo Urgesi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)
106 Downloads (Pure)


The ability to form anticipatory representations of ongoing actions is crucial for effective interactions in dynamic environments. In sports, elite athletes exhibit greater ability than novices in predicting other players actions, mainly based on reading their body kinematics. This superior perceptual ability has been associated with a modulation of visual and motor areas by visual and motor expertise. Here, we investigated the causative role of visual and motor action representations in experts ability to predict the outcome of soccer actions. We asked expert soccer players (outfield players and goalkeepers) and novices to predict the direction of the ball after perceiving the initial phases of penalty kicks that contained or not incongruent body kinematics. During the task, we applied repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) over the superior temporal sulcus (STS) and the dorsal premotor cortex (PMd). Results showed that STS-rTMS disrupted performance in both experts and novices, especially in those with greater visual expertise (i.e. goalkeepers). Conversely, PMd-rTMS impaired performance only in expert players (i.e. outfield players and goalkeepers), who exhibit strong motor expertise into facing domain-specific actions in soccer games. These results provide causative evidence of the complimentary functional role of visual and motor action representations in experts action prediction.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)342-351
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Cognitive and affective neroscience
Issue number3
Early online date24 Apr 2014
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anticipation, Psychological/physiology
  • Athletic Performance/physiology
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Cortex/physiology
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Psychomotor Performance/physiology
  • Signal Detection, Psychological
  • Soccer/psychology
  • Temporal Lobe/physiology
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
  • User-Computer Interface
  • Visual Cortex/physiology
  • Visual Perception/physiology
  • Young Adult


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