Learning and Production of Movement Sequences: Behavioral, Neurophysiological, and Modeling Perspectives
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A growing wave of behavioral studies, using a wide variety of paradigms that were introduced or greatly refined in recent years, has generated a new wealth of parametric observations about serial order behavior. What was a mere trickle of neurophysiological studies has grown to a more steady stream of probes of neural sites and mechanisms underlying sequential behavior. Moreover, simulation models of serial behavior generation have begun to open a channel to link cellular dynamics with cognitive and behavioral dynamics. Here we summarize the major results from prominent sequence learning and performance tasks, namely immediate serial recall, typing, 2XN, discrete sequence production, and serial reaction time. These populate a continuum from higher to lower degrees of internal control of sequential organization. The main movement classes covered are speech and keypressing, both involving small amplitude movements that are very amenable to parametric study. A brief synopsis of classes of serial order models, vis-à-vis the detailing of major effects found in the behavioral data, leads to a focus on competitive queuing (CQ) models. Recently, the many behavioral predictive successes of CQ models have been joined by successful prediction of distinctively patterend electrophysiological recordings in prefrontal cortex, wherein parallel activation dynamics of multiple neural ensembles strikingly matches the parallel dynamics predicted by CQ theory. An extended CQ simulation model-the N-STREAMS neural network model-is then examined to highlight issues in ongoing attemptes to accomodate a broader range of behavioral and neurophysiological data within a CQ-consistent theory. Important contemporary issues such as the nature of working memory representations for sequential behavior, and the development and role of chunks in hierarchial control are prominent throughout.