Expert players accurately detect an opponent's movement intentions through sound alone

Ivan Camponogara, Matthew Rodger, Cathy Craig, Paola Cesari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)
182 Downloads (Pure)


Sounds offer a rich source of information about events taking place in our physical and social environment. However, outside the domains of speech and music, little is known about whether humans can recognize and act upon the intentions of another agent’s actions detected through auditory information alone. In this study we assessed whether intention can be inferred from the sound an action makes, and in turn, whether this information can be used to prospectively guide movement. In two experiments experienced and novice basketball players had to virtually intercept an attacker by listening to audio recordings of that player’s movements. In the first experiment participants had to move a slider, while in the second one their body, to block the perceived passage of the attacker as they would in a real basketball game. Combinations of deceptive and non-deceptive movements were used to see if novice and/or experienced listeners could perceive the attacker’s intentions through sound alone. We showed that basketball players were able to more accurately predict final running direction compared to non-players, particularly in the second experiment when the interceptive action was more basketball specific. We suggest that athletes present better action anticipation by being able to pick up and use the relevant kinematic features of deceptive movement from event-related sounds alone. This result suggests that action intention can be perceived through the sound a movement makes and that the ability to determine another person’s action intention from the information conveyed through sound is honed through practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)348-359
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology Human Perception and Performance
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 28 Feb 2017


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