Preparation for action: Psychophysiological activity preceding a motor skill as a function of expertise, performance outcome, and psychological pressure

Andrew Cooke, Maria Kavussanu, Germano Gallicchio, Adrian Willoughby, David Mcintyre, Christopher Ring

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


Knowledge of the psychophysiological responses that characterize optimal motor performance is required to inform biofeedback interventions. This experiment compared cortical, cardiac, muscular, and kinematic activity in 10 experts and 10 novices as they performed golf putts in low- and high-pressure conditions. Results revealed that in the final seconds preceding movement, experts displayed a greater reduction in heart rate and EEG theta, high-alpha, and beta power, when compared to novices. EEG high-alpha power also predicted success, with participants producing less high-alpha power in the seconds preceding putts that were holed compared to those that were missed. Increased pressure had little impact on psychophysiological activity. It was concluded that greater reductions in EEG high-alpha power during preparation for action reflect more resources being devoted to response programming, and could underlie successful accuracy-based performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)374-384
Number of pages11
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • EEG
  • Expertise
  • Heart rate deceleration
  • Movement kinematics
  • Performance under pressure

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