The research suggests that "the motor system is taking care of the keystrokes, but it's being driven by this higher-level system that thinks in terms of words and tells your hands which words to type," Logan said.
Two autonomous feedback loops are involved in this error-detection and correction process, the researchers said.
What's next? "By understanding how typists are so good at typing, it will help us train people in other kinds of skills, developing this autopilot controlled by a pilot [typist]," he said.
Gregory Hickok, director of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of California at Irvine, said such research can indeed lead to advances.
Simply reaching for a cup is a fairly complicated process, said Hickok, who's familiar with the study findings. "Despite all that is going on, our movements are usually effortless, rapid, and fluid even in the face of unexpected changes," he said.
"If we can understand how humans can achieve this, we might be able to build robots to do all sorts of things, or develop new therapies or build prosthetic devices for people who have lost their motor abilities due to disease or injury," he said.
The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more on the brain.
SOURCES: Gordon D. Logan, Ph.D., professor, psychology, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn.; Gregory Hickok, Ph.D., director, Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, University of California at Irvine; Oct. 29, 2010, Science
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