Mature locomotion involves modular spinal drives generating a set of fundamental patterns of motoneuron activation, each timed at a specific phase of locomotor cycles and associated with a stable muscle synergy. How locomotor modules develop and to what extent they depend on prior experience or intrinsic programs remains unclear. To address these issues, we herein leverage the presence at birth of two types of locomotor-like movements, spontaneous kicking and weight-bearing stepping. The former is expressed thousands of times in utero and postnatally, whereas the latter is elicited de novo by placing the newborn on the ground for the first time. We found that the neuromuscular modules of stepping and kicking differ substantially. Neonates kicked with an adult-like number of temporal activation patterns, which lacked a stable association with systematic muscle synergies across movements. However, on the ground neonates stepped with fewer temporal patterns but all structured in stable synergies. Since kicking and ground-stepping coexist at birth, switching between the two behaviors may depend on a dynamic reconfiguration of the underlying neural circuits as a function of sensory feedback from surface contact. We tracked the development of ground-stepping in 4- to 48-mo-old infants and found that, after the age of 6 mo, the number of temporal patterns increased progressively, reaching adult-like conformation only after independent walking was established. We surmise that mature locomotor modules may derive by combining the multiple patterns of repeated kicking, on the one hand, with synergies resulting from fractionation of those revealed by sporadic weight-bearing stepping, on the other hand.

Distinct locomotor precursors in newborn babies

d'Avella, Andrea;
2020-01-01

Abstract

Mature locomotion involves modular spinal drives generating a set of fundamental patterns of motoneuron activation, each timed at a specific phase of locomotor cycles and associated with a stable muscle synergy. How locomotor modules develop and to what extent they depend on prior experience or intrinsic programs remains unclear. To address these issues, we herein leverage the presence at birth of two types of locomotor-like movements, spontaneous kicking and weight-bearing stepping. The former is expressed thousands of times in utero and postnatally, whereas the latter is elicited de novo by placing the newborn on the ground for the first time. We found that the neuromuscular modules of stepping and kicking differ substantially. Neonates kicked with an adult-like number of temporal activation patterns, which lacked a stable association with systematic muscle synergies across movements. However, on the ground neonates stepped with fewer temporal patterns but all structured in stable synergies. Since kicking and ground-stepping coexist at birth, switching between the two behaviors may depend on a dynamic reconfiguration of the underlying neural circuits as a function of sensory feedback from surface contact. We tracked the development of ground-stepping in 4- to 48-mo-old infants and found that, after the age of 6 mo, the number of temporal patterns increased progressively, reaching adult-like conformation only after independent walking was established. We surmise that mature locomotor modules may derive by combining the multiple patterns of repeated kicking, on the one hand, with synergies resulting from fractionation of those revealed by sporadic weight-bearing stepping, on the other hand.
2020
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11570/3160847
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