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Developmental changes in intralimb coordination during spontaneous movements of human infants from 2 to 3 months of age

Abstract

Human infants show a variety of spontaneous movements in the first few months of life. Although the pattern of spontaneous movements changes at approximately 2 months of age, the precise mechanism that governs the developmental changes in intralimb coordination remains unclear. In the present study, we focused on knee–ankle coordination during spontaneous movements of human infants from 2 to 3 months of age. Multiple attitude sensors were used to measure three-dimensional angular motion of knee and ankle joint motions. We acquired a one-dimensional time series of the knee joint angle around the putative hinge joint and a two-dimensional time series of ankle motions on the putative sagittal and frontal plane. First, we found that 3-month-old infants show a significant predominance to extend their knee joints, remarkably so on the left side. To quantify dissociated motions of the knee and ankle, we calculated the temporal correlation and the regression slope between them. We observed that 3-month-old infants moved their ankle joints more independently of knee motions than 2-month-old infants. Finally, we found that dissociated motions of the knee and ankle simultaneously develop with knee extension predominance. The developmental change from synchronization to dissociation of intralimb joint movements during spontaneous movements suggests that the development of the cortical and/or subcortical mechanism may mediate selective activation and inhibition of joint motions at approximately 2 months of age.

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Acknowledgments

We thank the parents and infants who participated in this study, Kayo Asakawa and Yoshiko Koda for their help in acquiring data and Keiko Hirano for administrative assistance. The work reported in this paper was supported by a MEXT Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research on Innovative Areas “Constructive Developmental Science” 24119002.

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Correspondence to Yoshiyuki Ohmura.

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Ohmura, Y., Gima, H., Watanabe, H. et al. Developmental changes in intralimb coordination during spontaneous movements of human infants from 2 to 3 months of age. Exp Brain Res 234, 2179–2188 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00221-016-4621-9

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Keywords

  • Infant
  • Development
  • Spontaneous movements
  • Lower limb movements