Development of Interlimb Movement Synchrony in the Rat Fetus

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In the fetal rat, interlimb synchrony is a prominent form of temporally organized spontaneous motor activity in which movement of different limbs occurs at nearly the same instant. In the present study, synchrony profiles were created for different pairwise combinations of limbs over the last 5 days of gestation. Observed rates of synchrony differentiated from randomized time series from Gestational Day 19 to Day 21 (E19-E21), with forelimb synchrony emerging earlier than that of other limb pairs. Synchrony profiles were elevated at the shortest intervals between successive limb movements, indicating that movements became more tightly coupled toward the end of gestation. Interlimb synchrony appears to be a robust method of quantifying fetal movement and may prove useful as a tool for assessing prenatal nervous system functioning.

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