What determines the impact of context on sequential action?

Marit F L Ruitenberg, Willem B Verwey, Elger L Abrahamse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


In the current study we build on earlier observations that memory-based sequential action is better in the original learning context than in other contexts. We examined whether changes in the perceptual context have differential impact across distinct processing phases (preparation versus execution of a motor chunk) within an ongoing movement sequence. Participants were trained on two discrete keying sequences, each of which was systematically presented in its own unique color during a practice session with either limited or extended practice. In a subsequent test session, sequences were performed with the same, with reversed, and with completely novel sequence-specific colors. The results confirm context-dependence in sequential action, the relevance of practice for its development, and its selective expression for the preparation but not the execution of highly practiced motor chunks. As such, the current study provides novel insights into the determinants of context-dependent sequential action. We finish by outlining the overall status of context-dependence in sequential motor behavior, and specify a general working model.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)298-314
Number of pages17
JournalHuman Movement Science
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Learning/physiology
  • Male
  • Memory
  • Motor Skills/physiology
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Reaction Time
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Serial Learning/physiology
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult


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