Self-organized criticality and learning a new coordination task

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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this study was to investigate the hypothesis that a self-organized criticality (SOC) practice condition would have a higher improvement rate in performance outcome than a typical progressive difficulty of practice regimen. The roller ball task was used where participants undergo a phase transition from failure to successful performance after sufficient practice. The findings from two experiments showed that the SOC condition had the fastest rate of improvement and the highest performance success level. The success probability in the SOC practice regime was close to the theoretically predicted value of 50%. It appears that the SOC practice condition - by scaling task difficulty to skill level in a self-controlled adaptive strategy - facilitates the learning of new movement coordination pattern by keeping the participant close to the parameter region of the transition of the movement dynamics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-54
Number of pages15
JournalHuman Movement Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Feb


  • Adaptive learning
  • Motor learning
  • Practice strategy
  • Self-organized criticality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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