Cognition in Skilled Action: Meshed Control and the Varieties of Skill Experience

Wayne Christensen, John Sutton*, Doris J F Mcilwain

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

150 Citations (Scopus)


We present a synthetic theory of skilled action which proposes that cognitive processes make an important contribution to almost all skilled action, contrary to influential views that many skills are performed largely automatically. Cognitive control is focused on strategic aspects of performance, and plays a greater role as difficulty increases. We offer an analysis of various forms of skill experience and show that the theory provides a better explanation for the full set of these experiences than automatic theories. We further show that the theory can explain experimental evidence for skill automaticity, including evidence that secondary tasks do not interfere with expert performance, and evidence that experts have reduced memory for performance of sensorimotor skills.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-66
Number of pages30
JournalMind and Language
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016


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