ERIC Number: EJ810773
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-May
Reference Count: 15
Self-Sensitivity in Fetal Development
Alberts, Jeffrey R.
Infancy, v13 n3 p270-274 May 2008
In mammalian species, behavior begins in utero, hidden within the mother's body. This biological fact has made it difficult to observe or to access fetuses, leaving the beginnings of behavior to the imagination or allowing it to be forgotten or ignored. Such truncation of perspective probably helped many to consider behavioral capabilities first seen at birth in a separate, special category termed inborn or "innate." Robinson, Kleven, and Brumley (this issue) externalized their fetal subjects from the mother's body and maintained the critical connections. Spinal blockade in the mother was essential, because surgical levels of anesthesia would affect the offspring and this, of course, would interfere with the behavioral investigation. Once externalized into the warm bath, the fetus' hind limbs were connected with a short tether, thus linking the movements of one limb to the other. Movements of one leg engaged the other into a similar movement trajectory. After 30 min of such self-stimulation, the tether was cut and the same fetus was observed for another half-hour. As the authors describe in detail, both quantitative and qualitative, the fetuses begin to show conjugate leg movements (CLMs). This is a "demonstration" that CLMs can be learned by rat fetuses as early as Embryonic Day 19 (E19), which had previously been reported for E20 fetuses. Here, however, it is also shown, within the training parameters used by these investigators, that E18 fetuses do not acquire CLMs, but E19s do and there is subsequent shaping over the next two gestational days. In this article, the author comments on the report by Robinson, Kleven, and Brumley (this issue) which, he contends, is a contribution to a continuing literature on rat behavioral embryology and, indeed, to developmental studies in general.
Descriptors: Animals, Mothers, Embryology, Prenatal Influences, Behavior, Behavior Development, Child Development, Psychological Studies, Motor Reactions
Psychology Press. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 325 Chestnut Street Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Fax: 215-625-2940; Web site: http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A