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date: 15 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Explaining the emergence of behavioral organization and functional action patterns during ontogeny represents a challenge for developmental science. Using interlimb coordination in the fetal and neonatal rat as a model behavior, this chapter reviews central mechanisms and sensory regulation of spontaneous limb movement, pharmacological induction of locomotor-like behavior, motor learning and memory, and environmental factors that contribute to the construction of organized motor behavior during perinatal development. Recent experiments indicate that action systems in the fetus emerge under the joint influence of neural resources, biomechanical constraints, proprioceptive feedback, and contingencies posed by the intrauterine environment. This research suggests that experience accruing from feedback about motor performance may play a significant role in the perinatal construction of motor behavior.

Keywords: behavioral organization, fetus, newborn, ontogeny, locomotion, interlimb coordination, motor performance, limb movement, motor learning, L-DOPA, Quipazine

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