The notion of the control of action is contrasted with that of coordination. In coordinated action, many parts of the body (or bodies) come together to act as if they served a specific purpose, recognizable as a behavioral goal. Such simpler domains of yoked components are called coordinative structures. Examples are given of the harnessing of components into coordinative structures. In the first case, known as synchronous speech, two speakers are subsumed within a single dyadic domain of organization that exists for as long as the speakers speak in synchrony. In the second case, a time-varying set of articulators work collaboratively in generating natural and fluent movement in accordance with a behavioral goal consisting of a desired utterance. In the latter case, we introduce a new model, extending the venerable task dynamic model familiar to students of articulatory phonology. In the new embodied task dynamic model, precise gestural timing arises, not from computation and control, but from considerations of optimality in movement. A candidate function for optimization combines terms derived from the estimation of articulatory effort, perceptual clarity, and speech rate. Both of these examples illustrate a methodological advantage of dynamical models that demand that the modeler first identify both components and system boundaries as they occur within the context of a specific behavioral goal. This contrasts with many approaches within computational cognitive science.


speech production motor control coordination dynamical systems embodiment autonomy 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Bernstein, N.A.: A new method of mirror cylographie and its application towards the study of labor movements during work on a workbench. Hygiene, Safety and Pathology lf Labor, 5:3–9, 6:3–11 (1930) (In Russian); Cited in Latash (2008)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Biewener, A.A., Taylor, C.R.: Bone strain: a determinant of gait and speed? The Journal of Experimental Biology 123, 383–400 (1986)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Browman, C.P., Goldstein, L.: Articulatory phonology: An overview. Phonetica 49, 155–180 (1992)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Browman, C.P., Goldstein, L.: Dynamics and articulatory phonology. In: Port, R.F., van Gelder, T. (eds.) Mind as Motion, ch. 7, pp. 175–193. MIT Press, Cambridge (1995)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Browman, C.P., Goldstein, L.: Articulatory gestures as phonological units. Phonology 6(02), 201–251 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Calvo, P., Gomila, A.: Handbook of Cognitive Science: An Embodied Approach. Elsevier Science Ltd, Amsterdam (2008)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Chemero, A., Silberstein, M.: After the Philosophy of Mind: Replacing Scholasticism with Science. Philosophy of Science 75, 1–27 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Cummins, F.: On synchronous speech. Acoustics Research Letters Online 3(1), 7–11 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Cummins, F.: Practice and performance in speech produced synchronously. Journal of Phonetics 31(2), 139–148 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Cummins, F.: Synchronization among speakers reduces macroscopic temporal variability. In: Proceedings of the 26th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, pp. 304–309 (2004)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Cummins, F.: Rhythm as entrainment: The case of synchronous speech. Journal of Phonetics 37(1), 16–28 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Haken, H., Kelso, J.A.S., Bunz, H.: A theoretical model of phase transitions in human hand movement. Biological Cybernetics 51, 347–356 (1985)MathSciNetCrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Hoyt, D.F., Taylor, C.R.: Gait and the energetics of locomotion in horses. Nature 292(5820), 239–240 (1981)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Scott Kelso, J.A.: Dynamic Patterns. MIT Press, Cambridge (1995)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Kelso, J.S., Tuller, B., Vatikiotis-Bateson, E., Fowler, C.A.: Functionally specific articulatory cooperation following jaw perturbations during speech: Evidence for coordinative structures. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance 10(6), 812–832 (1984)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Latash, M.L.: Synergy. Oxford University Press, USA (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Lindblom, B.: Explaining phonetic variation: a sketch of the H&H theory. In: Hardcastle, W.J., Marchal, A. (eds.) Speech Production and Speech Modelling, pp. 403–439. Kluwer Academic, Dordrecht (1990)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Nam, H., Saltzman, E.: A competitive, coupled oscillator model of syllable structure. In: International Conference on Phonetic Sciences (2003)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Port, R., van Gelder, T. (eds.): Mind as Motion: Explorations in the Dynamics of Cognition. Bradford Books/MIT Press, Cambridge (1995)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Saltzman, E., Byrd, D.: Task-dynamics of gestural timing: Phase windows and multifrequency rhythms. Human Movement Science 19(4), 499–526 (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Saltzman, E., Kelso, J.A.S.: Skilled actions: A task dynamic approach. Psychological Review 94, 84–106 (1987)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Saltzman, E., Munhall, K.: A dynamical approach to gestural patterning in speech production. Ecological Psychology 1, 333–382 (1989)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Schmidt, R.C., Carello, C., Turvey, M.T.: Phase transitions and critical fluctuations in the visual coordination of rhythmic movements between people. Journal of Experimental Psychology. Human Perception and Performance 16(2), 227–247 (1990)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Simko, J., Cummins, F.: Embodied task dynamics. Psychological Review (2009) (in press)Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Simko, J., Cummins, F.: Sequencing of articulatory gestures using cost optimization. In: Proceedings of INTERSPEECH 2009, Brighton, U.K. (2009)Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Simko, J., Cummins, F.: Sequencing and optimization within an embodied task dynamic model. Cognitive Science (in revision 2010)Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Tuller, B., Turvey, M.T., Fitch, H.L.: The Bernstein perspective: II. The concept of muscle linkage or coordinative structure. Human Motor Behavior: An Introduction, 253–270 (1982)Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Wallace, B., Ross, A., Davies, J., Anderson, T.: The Mind, the Body and the World. Psychology after Cognitivism. Imprint Academic, Charlottesville, VA (2007)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fred Cummins
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Computer Science and InformaticsUniversity CollegeDublinIreland

Personalised recommendations