Qualitative and quantitative change in the dynamics of motor learning

Yeou Teh Liu, Gottfried Mayer-Kress, Karl M. Newell*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Citations (Scopus)


The experiments examined qualitative and quantitative changes in the dynamics of learning a novel motor skill (roller ball task) as a function of the manipulation of a control parameter (initial ball speed). The focus was on the relation between the rates of change in performance over practice time and the changing time scales of the evolving attractor dynamic. Results showed 3 different learning patterns to the changes in the dynamics as a function of practice that were mediated by the initial ball speed. Only participants who learned the task showed a bifurcation in coordination mode that was preceded by enhanced performance variability. The observed multiple time scales to motor learning are interpreted as the products of the dynamical stability and instability realized from (a) the continually evolving landscape dynamics due to bifurcations between attractor organization and (b) the transient phenomena associated with moving toward and away from fixed-point dynamics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)380-393
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2006 Apr


  • Bifurcation
  • Landscape
  • Motor learning
  • Nonlinear dynamical system
  • Time scale

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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