overview: New research reveals spontaneous, random movements that help babies develop their sensorimotor systems.
sauce: University of Tokyo
Spontaneous, random movements in babies help develop their sensorimotor systems, according to new research led by the University of Tokyo.
Combining detailed motion capture of neonates and infants with musculoskeletal computer models has enabled researchers to analyze muscle-to-muscle communication and whole-body sensations.
Researchers have discovered patterns of muscle interaction that develop based on babies’ random exploratory behavior.
A better understanding of how our sensorimotor system develops could help gain insight into the origins of human movement and the early diagnosis of developmental disorders.
Immediately after birth and even in the womb, babies begin to kick, juggle, and move without a purpose or external stimulus. These are called “locomotor activities,” and researchers believe they play a key role in the development of the sensorimotor system—the ability to control muscles, movement, and coordination.
If researchers could better understand these seemingly random movements and how they are involved in early human development, they might be able to identify early indicators of certain developmental disorders, such as cerebral palsy. .
Currently, our knowledge of how newborns and infants learn to move is limited. “Previous research on sensorimotor development has focused on kinematic characteristics, that is, muscle activity that moves joints and parts of the body,” says Seinori Kanazawa, assistant professor at the Graduate School of Information Science and Technology. said.
“However, our research focused on whole-body muscle activity and sensory input signals. We found that such movements contribute to the development of coordinated sensorimotor development.”
First, the team used motion capture technology to record the joint movements of 12 healthy newborns (less than 10 days old) and 10 infants (about 3 months old). They then used a full-body infant-scale musculoskeletal computer model they created to estimate the infant’s muscle activity and sensory input signals.
Finally, they used computer algorithms to analyze the spatiotemporal (both spatial and temporal) features of the interaction between input signals and muscle activity.
“We were surprised to find that infant movements ‘wandered’ and pursued different sensorimotor interactions during voluntary movements. We termed this phenomenon ‘sensorimotor wandering’. I named it,” Kanazawa said.
“It has generally been thought that the development of the sensorimotor system depends on the occurrence of repeated sensorimotor interactions, meaning that the more you perform the same action, the more likely you are to learn and remember it. Become.
“However, our results suggest that infants develop their own sensorimotor system based on exploratory behavior and curiosity, and not only repeat the same behavior, but also repeat a variety of behaviors. In addition to this, our findings provide a conceptual link between early spontaneous movement and spontaneous neural activity.”
Previous studies in humans and animals have shown that motor behavior (movement) involves a small number of primitive muscle control patterns. These are patterns commonly seen in task-specific and cyclic movements such as walking and reaching.
The results of this latest study support the theory that neonates and infants can acquire sensorimotor modules—synchronized muscle activity and sensory input—through voluntary whole-body movements without a clear purpose or task.
Even through sensorimotor wandering, babies showed increased coordinated whole-body movements and anticipatory movements. It showed a pattern and continuous movement.
Next, Kanazawa would like to examine how sensorimotor loitering, along with more complex behaviors and higher-order cognitive functions, affects subsequent development such as locomotion and reaching.
“My original background is in infant rehabilitation. My major goal through my research is to understand the mechanisms underlying early motor development and find knowledge that can help facilitate infant development.” .
About this neurodevelopmental research news
author: press office
sauce: University of Tokyo
contact: Press Office – The University of Tokyo
image: Images are credited to Kanazawa et al.
Original research: Findings are displayed in: PNAS