BERNSTEIN'S CONSTRUCTION OF MOVEMENTS: Bringing Task Constraints into Action Theory

Karl M. Newell, Yeou Teh Liu

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This English translation of Bernstein’s (1947) original Russian treatise “Construction of movements” brings into a single publication an integration of his biophysical approach to motor control (Bernstein 1967) with the levels of construction framework (Bernstein 1996) to form the outline toward a general theory of action. Our comments are restricted to and guided by Bernstein’s perspective on the degrees of freedom problem and how this relates to the role of task constraints in movement adaptation, development and learning. The multi-level hierarchical framework of Bernstein’s construction of movements has the organization at all levels of the system influenced by the goal of the motor task. Practice, in the form of repetition without repetition, can change qualitatively the leading and background levels of the system organization and support successive phases of change within two general stages of motor skill development. Bernstein has brought the task with its’ goals and constraints into the foundation of his theory for human movement and action.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBernstein's Construction of Movements
Subtitle of host publicationThe Original Text and Commentaries
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781000213843
ISBN (Print)9780367418908
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Jan 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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