, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 77-111

Segmentation in behavior and what it can tell us about brain function

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Abstract

Natural human behavior is segmented into action units, functionally related groups of movements with durations of a few seconds. This phenomenon can also be found in nonhuman primates and other mammals. In humans, a similar segmentation can be found in planning, preparatory behavior, perception, and speech.

Temporal segmentation may be related to the functioning of short-term memory. Segmentation may thus be a central feature of neuronal integration. Segment length was hitherto thought to be determined by either capacity constraints or temporal factors. Instead we show that segment length depends on the interplay between capacity and temporal factors.

Margret Schleidt received her Dr. rer. nat. in biology from the University of Freiburg, Germany, in 1955. She joined the human ethology department of the Max Planck Society in 1974. Since then she has been occupied with research on the function of human odor, the mother-child relationship, and the temporal organization of short-term behavior. She has been a lecturer at the University of Innsbruck, Austria, since 1990.
Jenny Kien received her Ph.D. in Neurobiology from Australian National University in 1973. Following postdoctoral positions in Germany, she joined the zoology department at the University of Regensburg, carrying out research on the neuronal organization of the motor system. She received her Dr. rer. nat. habil. in 1980. At present she lives in Jerusalem, Israel.