Alessia Tessari Giovanni Ottoboni Roberto Nicoletti

The effect of expertise on the processes underlying movement and body coding: A study on expert volleyball players

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Athletes are often required to anticipate others' actions and to interact with moving objects whose motion has to be anticipatory represented in order to properly react. To this aim visual and motor experience become essential in developing such predictor abilities. We here investigated if volleyball players were able to process the intention to act transmitted by the posture of hands' picture. In three experiments we used an attentional paradigm, a Simon-like task called "Sidedness" paradigm (Ottoboni, Tessari, Cubelli & Umiltà, 2005) and highlighted as professional volleyball players differ from non-players in the ability to encode specific spatial and bodily indexes and to direct attention according to them. Images of hands of potential adversaries incorporate meanings related to sport that makes volleyball athletes sensitive to directional spatial characteristics previously unobserved. What appears to be crucial in the generation of such effect is the ability to predict the direction of an action by single body postures and to anticipatorily prepare the motor behavior in order to oppose them.


  • Action Prediction
  • Expertise
  • Sport
  • Body
  • Spatial Compatibility


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