Concatenating familiar movement sequences: the versatile cognitive processor

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124 Citations (Scopus)


Earlier studies demonstrated that practicing a series of key presses in a fixed order yields memory representations (i.e., motor chunks) that can be selected and used for sequence execution as if familiar key pressing sequences are single responses. In order to examine whether these motor chunks are robust in different situations and whether preparation for one sequence may overlap with execution of another one, two experiments were carried out in which participants executed two highly practiced keying sequences in rapid succession in response to two simultaneously presented stimuli. The results confirmed robustness of motor chunks, even when the sequences included only two elements, and showed that preparation (and in particular, selection) of a forthcoming sequence may occur during execution of the earlier sequence. Sequences including only two keys appeared to be slowed more by concurrent preparation than longer sequences. Together these results suggest that the execution of familiar keying sequences is predominantly carried out by a dedicated motor processor, and that the cognitive processor can be allocated to preparing a forthcoming sequence (e.g., during execution of an earlier sequence) or, some times, to selecting individual sequence elements in parallel to the motor processor.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-95
JournalActa psychologica
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Sequential learning
  • Motor skill
  • Perceptual motor learning


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