Psychological Research

, Volume 55, Issue 2, pp 131–138 | Cite as

Searching for the minimal essential information for skilled perception and action

  • Bruce Abernethy


A common concern for both cognitive/computational and ecological/dynamical models of human motor control is the isolation of the minimal essential information needed to support skilled perception and action. In perception isolating essential features of the optic flow field, which are reliably informative regarding the nature of current events, from nonessential features provides a valuable step towards understanding how the computational complexity of perceptual information processing may be reduced to manageable levels and how relatively direct linkages of low dimensionality may be established between information and control variables. Likewise, in the study of action, discrimination of the movement features that remain immutable (invariant?) across changes in task conditions from the variables that are situationally determined provides a principled insight into the structural framework upon which skilled movement is built. Controversy abounds, however, in the study of perception and action as to whether features isolated as informative and immutable are centrally represented (in the form of a template or program) or are rather directly picked up (in the case of perceptual variables) or are simply an emergent consequence of the underlying dynamics (in the case of action variables). In this paper some examples of putative minimal essential information sources in perception and action are provided, strategies for uncovering such sources are discussed, and attention is directed, with the use of some recent data collected on natural skills, to some systematic expert-novice differences in the utilization of essential information and control variables. Expert-novice differences are highlighted because of the insight they may provide regarding the nature of perceptual-motor skill acquisition.


Optic Flow Skill Acquisition Structural Framework Human Motor Perceptual Information 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bruce Abernethy
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Human Movement StudiesThe University of QueenslandAustralia

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