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Sensorimotor anticipation of others’ actions in real-world and video settings: Modulation by level of engagement?

Krol, Manon A; Jellema, Tjeerd


Manon A Krol


Electroencephalography (EEG) studies investigating social cognition have used both video and real-world stimuli, often without a strong reasoning as to why one or the other was chosen. Video stimuli can be selected for practical reasons, while naturalistic real-world stimuli are ecologically valid. The current study investigated modulatory effects on EEG mu (8–13Hz) suppression, directly prior to the onset–and during the course–of observed actions, related to real-world and video settings. Recordings were made over sensorimotor cortex and stimuli in both settings consisted of identical (un)predictable object-related grasping and placing actions. In both settings, a very similar mu suppression was found during unfolding of the action, irrespective of predictability. However, mu suppression related to the anticipation of upcoming predictable actions was found exclusively in the real-world setting. Thus, even though the presentation setting does not seem to modulate mu suppression during action observation, it does affect the anticipation-related mu suppression. We discuss the possibility that this may be due to increased social engagement in real-world settings, which in particular affects anticipation. The findings emphasize the importance of using real-world stimuli to bring out the subtle, anticipatory, aspects related to action observation.


Krol, M. A., & Jellema, T. (2022). Sensorimotor anticipation of others’ actions in real-world and video settings: Modulation by level of engagement?. Social Neuroscience, 17(3), 293-304.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 23, 2022
Online Publication Date May 25, 2022
Publication Date 2022
Deposit Date Jul 5, 2022
Publicly Available Date Oct 27, 2022
Journal Social Neuroscience
Print ISSN 1747-0919
Electronic ISSN 1747-0927
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 17
Issue 3
Pages 293-304
Keywords Anticipation; Action observation; EEG mu rhythm; Sensorimotor cortex; Social engagement
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© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.

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