The role of strategies in motor learning

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2012 Mar;1251:1-12. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2011.06430.x. Epub 2012 Feb 13.


There has been renewed interest in the role of strategies in sensorimotor learning. The combination of new behavioral methods and computational methods has begun to unravel the interaction between processes related to strategic control and processes related to motor adaptation. These processes may operate on very different error signals. Strategy learning is sensitive to goal-based performance error. In contrast, adaptation is sensitive to prediction errors between the desired and actual consequences of a planned movement. The former guides what the desired movement should be, whereas the latter guides how to implement the desired movement. Whereas traditional approaches have favored serial models in which an initial strategy-based phase gives way to more automatized forms of control, it now seems that strategic and adaptive processes operate with considerable independence throughout learning, although the relative weight given the two processes will shift with changes in performance. As such, skill acquisition involves the synergistic engagement of strategic and adaptive processes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Athletic Performance / psychology
  • Feedback, Physiological
  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Models, Neurological
  • Movement*
  • Practice, Psychological
  • Problem Solving
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*