Human Nature

, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 77–111

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

  • Margret Schleidt
  • Jenny Kien


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.

Key words

Behavior Perception Primates Processing capacity Repetition Speech Short-term memory Time structure 


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Copyright information

© Walter de Gruyter, Inc 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Margret Schleidt
    • 2
  • Jenny Kien
    • 1
  1. 1.JerusalemIsrael
  2. 2.Human EthologyMax Planck SocietyAndechsGermany

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