(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists have found that the seemingly random movements of newborns, which appear from the first day of life, actually contribute to the development of their sensorimotor system and coordination.
A better understanding of the formation of this system will allow the development of an earlier diagnosis of developmental disorders.
According to a new study by scientists from the University of Tokyo (Japan), the spontaneous movements of the child contribute to the development of his sensorimotor system.
The researchers used motion capture technologies and computer models of the musculoskeletal system to analyze the interaction between muscles and sensations throughout the body of infants and newborns.
Newborns almost never remain still. From the very first day of life, and even in the womb, babies kick, twitch their arms and legs, and fidget in place seemingly without purpose or external stimulation.
These behaviors are called “spontaneous movements” and, according to researchers, they play an important role in the development of the sensorimotor system, which provides our control over muscles, movements and coordination.
A better understanding of the relationship of these seemingly random movements with early human development will help to identify early signs of various developmental disorders.
Today, knowledge about how newborns learn to move their bodies is very limited. Most of the previous research on sensorimotor development has focused on muscle activity that causes movement in a joint or body part.
Japanese scientists have devoted their new work to muscle activity and sensations. They found that spontaneous movements that seem to have no apparent purpose or purpose promote coordinated sensorimotor development.
The team recorded the movements of 12 healthy newborns (under 10 days old) and 10 infants (aged about three months) using motion capture technology.
They then assessed the infants’ muscle activity and sensory perception using a computer model of the infant’s entire body musculoskeletal system.
After that, the authors applied computer algorithms to analyze the spatiotemporal features of the interaction between perception and muscle activity.
It is generally accepted that the development of the sensorimotor system depends on repetitive actions. This means that the more often we repeat the same movement, the more likely we are to remember it.
The new findings suggest that infants’ sensorimotor development is based on exploratory behavior, so they don’t just repeat the same action over and over, but try different movements and combinations of them.
In addition, scientists have demonstrated the existence of a connection between early spontaneous movements and spontaneous activity of neurons in the somatosensory cortex.
Previous research has shown that mere movement involves a small set of primitive patterns. They can be clearly seen in the example of cyclic or directed movements, such as walking or grasping an object.
The results of this study support the theory that newborns acquire this synchronized muscle activity through spontaneous whole-body movements with no apparent purpose.
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