Zoia et al., 2013: "The Development of Upper Limb Movements: From Fetal to Post-Natal Life"

[From Matti Kolu (2014.01.21.2345 CET)]

The horror of action planning, even in the womb. I think I was
expecting more randomness.

Zoia S, Blason L, D'Ottavio G, Biancotto M, Bulgheroni M, Castiello U.
The development of upper limb movements: from fetal to post-natal
life. PLoS One. 2013 Dec 4;8(12):e80876. doi:
10.1371/journal.pone.0080876.

"Here, we capitalized on two studies that investigated the kinematic
pattern of prenatal hand movements towards the mouth and the eye,
establishing whether fetuses� hand movements show some evidence of
action planning depending on end goal [14], [15]. Zoia and colleagues
[14] studied hand movements towards the mouth and towards the eye in
fetuses aged 14, 18 and 22 weeks of gestation, showing that these hand
movements are not casual. By means of off-line kinematical techniques
it was demonstrated that the hand-to-mouth and the hand-to-eye
movements are planned according to the size and/or delicacy of the
target, suggesting a primitive predictive process in which the sensory
consequences of a movement are anticipated and used for action
planning.

[...]

"The aim of this longitudinal study was to investigate how upper limb
movements develop before and after birth. The present findings confirm
that the temporal characteristics of fetal movements are by no means
uncoordinated or without pattern. As previously reported, by 22 weeks
of gestation the movements seem to show a recognizable form of motor
planning, with kinematic patterns that depend on the target [14],
[15]. Therefore, during development, the fetus would acquire motor
skills, which reflect an �environment specific� maturation, similar to
that shown during post-natal development in terms of pre- and reaching
phases [17], [18]. This differential kinematic patterning suggests
some motor behavior development, an increased level of motor control
and some level of action planning in the fetus.

An important aspect of these results is that after birth the above
mentioned kinematic patterning does not persist. This is witnessed by
the fact that the longer movement duration and deceleration time found
at 22 weeks of gestation for movements towards the eye rather than the
mouth, re-emerge at four months of postnatal life. This suggests a
possible reorganization phase, which might be necessary to re-adapt
movement to the novel environment. Of course, a period of time might
be needed to overcome the chaos possibly caused by two important
post-natal changes, that is, acting in a richer and more challenging
spatial context than in the uterus and the emergence of vision.
Infants need to recalibrate actions within a non viscous and unlimited
environment. In other words, there might be an environment specific
maturation process that briefly persists after birth, but cannot be
maintained when the infant becomes more aware of environmental
changes."

Free full-text: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3851939/

Matti

[From Kent McClelland (2014.01.21.2050 CST)]

Hi Matti,

Thanks for pointing out this "horror."

Isn't it impressive how much "delicate" computation the authors imagine to be going on in those little brains? That is at least, until the babies find themselves coping with the "chaos" of life in the outside world of unpredictable disturbances.

Kent

···

On Jan 21, 2014, at 4:40 PM, Matti Kolu wrote:

[From Matti Kolu (2014.01.21.2345 CET)]

The horror of action planning, even in the womb. I think I was
expecting more randomness.

Zoia S, Blason L, D'Ottavio G, Biancotto M, Bulgheroni M, Castiello U.
The development of upper limb movements: from fetal to post-natal
life. PLoS One. 2013 Dec 4;8(12):e80876. doi:
10.1371/journal.pone.0080876.

"Here, we capitalized on two studies that investigated the kinematic
pattern of prenatal hand movements towards the mouth and the eye,
establishing whether fetuses� hand movements show some evidence of
action planning depending on end goal [14], [15]. Zoia and colleagues
[14] studied hand movements towards the mouth and towards the eye in
fetuses aged 14, 18 and 22 weeks of gestation, showing that these hand
movements are not casual. By means of off-line kinematical techniques
it was demonstrated that the hand-to-mouth and the hand-to-eye
movements are planned according to the size and/or delicacy of the
target, suggesting a primitive predictive process in which the sensory
consequences of a movement are anticipated and used for action
planning.

[...]

"The aim of this longitudinal study was to investigate how upper limb
movements develop before and after birth. The present findings confirm
that the temporal characteristics of fetal movements are by no means
uncoordinated or without pattern. As previously reported, by 22 weeks
of gestation the movements seem to show a recognizable form of motor
planning, with kinematic patterns that depend on the target [14],
[15]. Therefore, during development, the fetus would acquire motor
skills, which reflect an �environment specific� maturation, similar to
that shown during post-natal development in terms of pre- and reaching
phases [17], [18]. This differential kinematic patterning suggests
some motor behavior development, an increased level of motor control
and some level of action planning in the fetus.

An important aspect of these results is that after birth the above
mentioned kinematic patterning does not persist. This is witnessed by
the fact that the longer movement duration and deceleration time found
at 22 weeks of gestation for movements towards the eye rather than the
mouth, re-emerge at four months of postnatal life. This suggests a
possible reorganization phase, which might be necessary to re-adapt
movement to the novel environment. Of course, a period of time might
be needed to overcome the chaos possibly caused by two important
post-natal changes, that is, acting in a richer and more challenging
spatial context than in the uterus and the emergence of vision.
Infants need to recalibrate actions within a non viscous and unlimited
environment. In other words, there might be an environment specific
maturation process that briefly persists after birth, but cannot be
maintained when the infant becomes more aware of environmental
changes."

Free full-text: The Development of Upper Limb Movements: From Fetal to Post-Natal Life - PMC

Matti

[From Matti Kolu (2014.02.22.0925 CET)]

Kent McClelland (2014.01.21.2050 CST)--

Isn't it impressive how much "delicate" computation the authors imagine to be going on in those little brains? That is at least, until the babies find themselves coping with the "chaos" of life in the outside world of unpredictable disturbances.

"No 'motor plan' survives contact with the Disturbances."

Matti

I love that analogy with warfare Matti!
Warren

···

On Wed, Jan 22, 2014 at 8:21 AM, Matti Kolu matti.kolu@gmail.com wrote:

[From Matti Kolu (2014.02.22.0925 CET)]

Kent McClelland (2014.01.21.2050 CST)–

Isn’t it impressive how much “delicate” computation the authors imagine to be going on in those little brains? That is at least, until the babies find themselves coping with the “chaos” of life in the outside world of unpredictable disturbances.

“No ‘motor plan’ survives contact with the Disturbances.”

https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Helmuth_von_Moltke_the_Elder

Matti


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