Time scales in motor learning and development

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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

318 Citations (Scopus)


A theoretical framework based on the concepts and tools of nonlinear dynamical systems is advanced to account for both the persistent and transitory changes traditionally shown for the learning and development of motor skills. The multiple time scales of change in task outcome over time are interpreted as originating from the system's trajectory on an evolving attractor landscape. Different bifurcations between attractor organizations and transient phenomena can lead to exponential, power law, or S-shaped learning curves. This unified dynamical account of the functions and time scales in motor learning and development offers several new hypotheses for future research on the nature of change in learning theory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-82
Number of pages26
JournalPsychological Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2001 Jan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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