Why do babies kick, wiggle and move? Here’s what researchers have found

Based on the random exploration of babies, researchers found that there are patterns of muscle interaction that would later allow them to perform sequential movements.

As part of the research, the joint movements of 12 healthy newborns were recorded.
As part of the research, the joint movements of 12 healthy newborns were recorded.

Health News: Babies start kicking right from birth. They also wiggle and move. But do you know why babies do so? According to researchers, the purpose behind such movements is the ability to control muscles, movement and coordination.

Researchers of the University of Tokyo captured the detailed motions of newborns and infants. They were combined with a musculoskeletal computer model in order to enable researchers to analyse communication among muscles and sensations across the whole body.

Based on the random exploration of babies, researchers found that there are patterns of muscle interaction that would later allow them to perform sequential movements.

“Our study focused on muscle activity and sensory input signals for the whole body. By combining a musculoskeletal model and neuroscientific method, we found that spontaneous movements, which seem to have no explicit task or purpose, contribute to coordinated sensorimotor development,” said Project Assistant Professor Hoshinori Kanazawa from the University of Tokyo.

As part of the research, the joint movements of 12 healthy newborns were recorded. All these newborns were less than 10 days old. Also, the movements of 10 young infants (about 3 months old) were recorded using motion capture technology.

Finally, the researchers analysed the spatiotemporal (both space and time) features of the interaction between the input signals and muscle activity using computer algorithms.

“We were surprised that during spontaneous movement, infants’ movements ‘wandered’ and they pursued various sensorimotor interactions. We named this phenomenon ‘sensorimotor wandering’,” said Kanazawa.

“However, the results of our research implied that infants develop their own sensorimotor system. This is based on explorational behaviour or curiosity, so they are not just repeating the same action but a variety of actions. In addition to this, our findings provide a conceptual linkage between early spontaneous movements and spontaneous neuronal activity,” he added.

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