Modularity and hierarchical organization of action programs in children's acquisition of graphic skills

Percept Mot Skills. 2011 Oct;113(2):619-30. doi: 10.2466/10.11.23.PMS.113.2.619-630.


The organization of actions is based on modules in memory as a result of practice, easing the demand of performing more complex actions. If this modularization occurs, the elements of the module must remain invariant in new tasks. To test this hypothesis, 35 children, age 10 yr., practiced a graphic criterion task on a digital tablet and completed a complex graphic task enclosing the previous one. Total movement and pause times to draw the figure indicated skill acquisition. A module was identified by the variability of relative timing, pause time, and sequencing. Total movement to perform the criterion task did not increase significantly when it was embedded in the more complex task. Modularity was evidenced by the stability of relative timing and pause time and sequencing. The spatial position of new elements did not perturb the module, so the grammar of action may still have been forming.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brazil
  • Child
  • Female
  • Handwriting*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Skills*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual*
  • Practice, Psychological*
  • Psychomotor Performance*
  • Retention, Psychology