Development of Interlimb Movement Synchrony in Preterm Human Infants

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Before birth, spontaneous movement occurs in all vertebrate species. Although these movements appear random, quantitative analysis has shown them to be organized in time and space. The temporal and spatial organization evident in fetal motor activity continues to be expressed by both animal and human infants after birth. Previous work in this lab has shown that quantification of spontaneous movement can reveal clear developmental patterns. One measure, interlimb synchrony, quantifies the temporal relationship of movements between pairwise limb combinations. In this study, spontaneous limb movement of preterm human infants born between 26–29 weeks post-conception was videotaped at weekly intervals in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in collaboration with the Clinical Research Center (with Dr. Jack Widness, MD, and Karen Johnson, RN). Quantification of spontaneous movement in these infants revealed differences in the expression of interlimb synchrony across ages. In particular, interlimb synchrony appeared most pronounced at later ages (>32 weeks), suggesting a developmental pattern in this form of motor organization. Supported by NIH grant RR00059 to the Clinical Research Center at the University of Iowa, and a UI Obermann Center for Advanced Studies Spelman Rockefeller Grant to SRR.


Abstract from the 33rd Annual Meeting of the International Society for Developmental Psychobiology, New Orleans, LA, November 1-4, 2000.



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