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The organization of spontaneous leg movements in newborn infants

The organization of spontaneous leg movements in newborn infants

Journal of Motor Behavior 15(4): 353-377

Spontaneous, supine kicking in newborn (2- and 4-week-old) infants is described in terms of its temporal structure, interjoint coordination, and muscle activation characteristics as measured by surface electromyography. Phasic kick movements shoed a constrained temporal organization in the movement, but not the pause phases. Hip, knee, and ankle joints moved in temporal and spatial synchrony, and all three joints showed a rhythmical or periodic organization over time. EMGs revealed antagonist coactivation at the initiation of the flexor movement, but little or not extensor activity. The dorsal muscles, the gastrocnemius and hamstrings, showed less activity than the ventral pair, tibialis anterior and quadriceps. Burst and onset-to-peak durations were also constrained. As a result of neural mechanisms and biomechanical forces, newborn leg movements are structured muscle synergies. This organization has implications both for newborn functioning and for later development.

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Accession: 050684300

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PMID: 15151867

DOI: 10.1080/00222895.1983.10735305

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