Skill acquisition spans cognitive Associative Autonomous stages
Initially, when learning a skill, it is performed in a state of acute awareness. All details have to be carefully considered in working memory, with high error rates and response times. However, after a number of learning episodes, the skill transitions to the associative phase, where episodic memory is used for pattern matching, remembering answers with lower error rates and response times. After even more episodes, the skill becomes autonomous and reflex-like, stored procedurally rather than declaratively.