The Haken-Kelso-Bunz (HKB) model: from matter to movement to mind

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This article presents a brief retrospective on the Haken-Kelso-Bunz (HKB) model of certain dynamical properties of human movement. Though unanticipated, HKB introduced, and demonstrated the power of, a new vocabulary for understanding behavior, cognition and the brain, revealed through a visually compelling mathematical picture that accommodated highly reproducible experimental facts and predicted new ones. HKB stands as a harbinger of paradigm change in several scientific fields, the effects of which are still being felt. In particular, HKB constitutes the foundation of a mechanistic science of coordination called Coordination Dynamics that extends from matter to movement to mind, and beyond. [Abstract copyright: © 2021. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.]
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-322
JournalBiological Cybernetics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 18 Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Some of the material in this article was presented in an invited B.F. Skinner Lecture entitled “Matter, Movement and Mind: The Laws that Bind Us” at the annual meeting of the Association of Behavior Analysis International (ABAI), San Diego, CA, May 27th, 2018. The input of friends and colleagues Natàlia Balagué, Peter Beek, Claudia Carello, David Engstrøm, John Jeka, Viktor Jirsa, Viviane Kostrubiec, Julien Lagarde, Marilyn Mitchell, Olivier Oullier, Pedro Passos, Carlota Torrents, Michael Turvey, Pier-Giorgio Zanone and others in conversation is deeply appreciated. Any mischaracterizations and omissions are my own, for which I apologize. Of the many points that came up one stood out, namely, to state the HKB model as a law of coordination succinctly (beyond its mathematical form). Here is an attempt: “The HKB law of coordination takes the form of an equation that expresses how patterns of coordination defined by informationally meaningful collective variables/order parameters evolve and change due to nonlinear interactions between parts and processes.” The author and his colleagues’ research described herein was supported by many funding agencies over the years both in the US and abroad. I am very grateful to all of them. The writing of this article was supported by the FAU Foundation (Eminent Scholar in Science) and the Davimos Family Endowment for Excellence in Science.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.


  • Complementarity
  • Behavior
  • Coordination Dynamics
  • Fluctuations
  • HKB model
  • Functional information
  • Intrinsic dynamics
  • Symmetry breaking
  • Brain


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