Motor skill learning between selection and execution

Jörn Diedrichsen, Katja Kornysheva

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

118 Citations (Scopus)


Learning motor skills evolves from the effortful selection of single movement elements to their combined fast and accurate production. We review recent trends in the study of skill learning which suggest a hierarchical organization of the representations that underlie such expert performance, with premotor areas encoding short sequential movement elements (chunks) or particular component features (timing/spatial organization). This hierarchical representation allows the system to utilize elements of well-learned skills in a flexible manner. One neural correlate of skill development is the emergence of specialized neural circuits that can produce the required elements in a stable and invariant fashion. We discuss the challenges in detecting these changes with fMRI.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-233
Number of pages7
JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank Nobuhiro Hagura, Jing Xu, and the Motor Control Lab for comments on the earlier versions of the manuscript. The paper was supported by a grant from the Wellcome trust (094874/Z/10/Z) and James McDonnell foundation, both to J.D., and a Sir Henry Wellcome Fellowship (098881/Z/12/Z) to K.K.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Ltd.


  • Animals
  • Brain/physiology
  • Humans
  • Learning/physiology
  • Motor Skills/physiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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