An action-incongruent secondary task modulates prediction accuracy in experienced performers: evidence for motor simulation
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We provide behavioral evidence that the human motor system is involved in the perceptual decision processes of skilled performers, directly linking prediction accuracy to the (in)ability of the motor system to activate in a response-specific way. Experienced and non-experienced dart players were asked to predict, from temporally occluded video sequences, the landing position of a dart thrown previously by themselves (self) or another (other). This prediction task was performed while additionally performing (a) an action-incongruent secondary motor task (right arm force production), (b) a congruent secondary motor task (mimicking) or (c) an attention-matched task (tone-monitoring). Non-experienced dart players were not affected by any of the secondary task manipulations, relative to control conditions, yet prediction accuracy decreased for the experienced players when additionally performing the force-production, motor task. This interference effect was present for ‘self’ as well as ‘other’ decisions, reducing the accuracy of experienced participants to a novice level. The mimicking (congruent) secondary task condition did not interfere with (or facilitate) prediction accuracy for either group. We conclude that visual–motor experience moderates the process of decision making, such that a seemingly visual–cognitive prediction task relies on activation of the motor system for experienced performers. This fits with a motor simulation account of action prediction in sports and other tasks, and alerts to the specificity of these simulative processes.
KeywordsPrediction Accuracy Secondary Task Motor Experience Motor Simulation Motor Interference
This research was supported by funds awarded to the corresponding authors (Hodges) from an NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada) Discovery grant and from a New Investigator salary award from CIHR (the Canadian Institute for Health Research).
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