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Neurosci Lett. 2011 Apr 4;492(3):139-44. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2011.01.074. Epub 2011 Feb 12.

Event-related potential effects of superior action anticipation in professional badminton players.

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Center for Studies of Psychological Application, South China Normal University, Guangzhou 510631, China.


The ability to predict the trajectory of a ball based on the opponent's body kinematics has been shown to be critical to high-performing athletes in many sports. However, little is known about the neural correlates underlying such superior ability in action anticipation. The present event-related potential study compared brain responses from professional badminton players and non-player controls when they watched video clips of badminton games and predicted a ball's landing position. Replicating literature findings, the players made significantly more accurate judgments than the controls and showed better action anticipation. Correspondingly, they showed enlarged amplitudes of two ERP components, a P300 peaking around 350ms post-stimulus with a parietal scalp distribution and a P2 peaking around 250ms with a posterior-occipital distribution. The P300 effect was interpreted to reflect primed access and/or directing of attention to game-related memory representations in the players facilitating their online judgment of related actions. The P2 effect was suggested to reflect some generic learning effects. The results identify clear neural responses that differentiate between different levels of action anticipation associated with sports expertise.

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