The role of volleyball expertise in motor simulation

Barbara Tomasino, Elisa Guatto, Raffaella Ida Rumiati, Franco Fabbro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We explored the impact of motor e. xperience on the interaction between implicit motor simulation and language-processing. In an action familiarity judgment task, expert volleyball players, fans and novices were presented with semantically correct sentences describing possible and not possible motor actions, all as negative or positive contexts, e.g., Don't shank! or Assist!. As processing negated action-phrases is known to reduce simulation states, exposure to negative or positive contexts was used here to test how simulation varies according to motor feasibility (possible, impossible) and experience (experts and fans).A significant group× stimulus× context interaction showed that athletes and fans, took longer to process negative than positive contexts for possible actions, compared to action-impossible sentences. In addition, experts were significantly faster and more accurate than fans and, in turn, they were both more accurate than novices. Thus, implicit motor simulation impacts on action-verb processing depending on (i) the domain-relevant expertise, (ii) the feasibility of the actions, and (iii) on whether scenes are presented in a negated context. These results suggest that the implicit triggering of motor representations is modulated by the context and it is tuned to people's motor repertoire, even when actions are described linguistically.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalActa Psychologica
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012


  • Action processing
  • Implicit motor imagery
  • Motor expertise
  • Motor system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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