Time scales in motor learning and development

Psychol Rev. 2001 Jan;108(1):57-82. doi: 10.1037/0033-295x.108.1.57.


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.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cognition
  • Human Development*
  • Humans
  • Learning*
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Motor Skills*
  • Nonlinear Dynamics
  • Time Factors