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Nature and nurture in the development of postural control in human infants

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Nowadays, the controversy on “nature” and “nurture” in motor development focuses on the development of automatic motor patterns. The present paper discusses this issue within the framework of a recent study on the effect of maturation and training on the development of postural adjustments in sitting infants. This study revealed that already before the age of sitting without help, highly variable but direction‐specific muscle activation patterns are present. This suggests that postural adjustments develop via an innate repertoire of primary direction‐specific response patterns. The following developmental step consists of a decrease in muscle activation patterns, which results in selection of the most complete patterns of synergist activation. In accordance with Edelman's neuronal group selection theory, pattern selection turned out to be experience dependent, as it appeared to be guided by cues on head stabilization and enhanced by daily balance training.
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Document Type: Original Article

Affiliations: Department of Woman and Child Health and Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden

Publication date: 1997-07-01

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