Some studies show that the medial frontal cortex is associated with more skilled action anticipation, while similar findings are not observed in some other studies, possibly due to the stimuli employed and the participants used as the control group. In addition, no studies have investigated whether there is any functional connectivity between the medial frontal cortex and other brain regions in more skilled action anticipation. Therefore, the present study aimed to re-investigate how the medial frontal cortex is involved in more skilled action anticipation by circumventing the limitations of previous research and to investigate that the medial frontal cortex functionally connected with other brain regions involved in action processing in more skilled action anticipation. To this end, professional badminton players and novices were asked to anticipate the landing position of the shuttlecock while watching badminton match videos or to judge the gender of the players in the matches. The video clips ended right at the point that the shuttlecock and the racket came into contact to reduce the effect of information about the trajectory of the shuttlecock. Novices who lacked training and watching experience were recruited for the control group to reduce the effect of sport-related experience on the medial frontal cortex. Blood oxygenation level-dependent activation was assessed by means of functional magnetic resonance imaging. Compared to novices, badminton players exhibited stronger activation in the left medial frontal cortex during action anticipation and greater functional connectivity between left medial frontal cortex and some other brain regions (e.g., right posterior cingulate cortex). Therefore, the present study supports the position that the medial frontal cortex plays a role in more skilled action anticipation and that there is a specific brain network for more skilled action anticipation that involves right posterior cingulate cortex, right fusiform gyrus, right inferior parietal lobule, left insula and particularly, and left medial frontal cortex.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Action anticipation
- Functional connectivity
- Medial frontal cortex
- Professional badminton players