Understanding how behavior develops is an important challenge facing the developmental, behavioral, biological, and clinical sciences. Thus, the study of neurobehavioral development is essential because it fosters improvements in diagnostic tools, therapeutic interventions, and cures for developmental motor and neurological disorders. Recognizing that there are multiple determinants of behavior and that development is not a predetermined plan, this application aims to examine the contribution of sensorimotor experience during the perinatal period for two action patterns expressed by the developing rat. The first specific aim examines the effect of sensory feedback on the expression and development of locomotor-like stepping behavior in the newborn rat. Experiments will evaluate effects of restriction of the range of motion (ROM) and treadmill training on quipazine- induced stepping behavior. The second specific aim examines the effect of sensory modulation on the coordinated le.g.extension response (LER) in the newborn rat. Experiments will employ methods of ROM restriction, unilateral weighting, and motor training to determine real-time and lasting effects of cutaneous and proprioceptive feedback on the LER. The third specific aim examines the effect of normally-occurring, species-typical sensory stimulation on the development and plasticity of these behaviors. Experiments will manipulate maternal behavior to determine the role that maternal-infant interactions play in shaping the ontogeny of locomotor behavior and the LER. The findings from this project may provide implications for physiotherapies for human infants with motor and neurological disorders (e.g., cerebral palsy, spina bifida and muscular dystrophy).

Public Health Relevance

This project will contribute to our understanding of neurobehavioral development by examining the sensory modulation of behavior patterns in the perinatal mammal. The findings from this project may provide implications for physiotherapies for human infants with motor or neurological disorders (e.g., cerebral palsy, spina bifida and muscular dystrophy) and individuals with spinal cord injuries.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Academic Research Enhancement Awards (AREA) (R15)
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Study Section
Biobehavioral Regulation, Learning and Ethology Study Section (BRLE)
Program Officer
Freund, Lisa S
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Idaho State University
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Swann, Hillary E; Kempe, R Blaine; Van Orden, Ashley M et al. (2016) Serotonergic activation of locomotor behavior and posture in one-day old rats. Behav Brain Res 302:104-14
Kauer, Sierra D; Allmond, Jacob T; Belnap, Starlie C et al. (2016) Maternal behavior influences development of a reflexive action pattern in the newborn rat. Dev Psychobiol 58:1043-1054
Mendez-Gallardo, Valerie; Roberto, Megan E; Kauer, Sierra D et al. (2016) Posture effects on spontaneous limb movements, alternated stepping, and the leg extension response in neonatal rats. Physiol Behav 155:122-30
Brumley, Michele R; Kauer, Sierra D; Swann, Hillary E (2015) Developmental plasticity of coordinated action patterns in the perinatal rat. Dev Psychobiol 57:409-20
Strain, Misty M; Brumley, Michele R (2014) Range of motion (ROM) restriction influences quipazine-induced stepping behavior in postnatal day one and day ten rats. Behav Brain Res 274:365-81
Belnap, Starlie C; Allmond, Jacob T; Boomhower, Steven R et al. (2014) Sensorimotor training during expression of the leg extension response (LER) in 1-day-old rats. Dev Psychobiol 56:1553-63
Strain, Misty M; Vineyard, Mary Ann; Roberto, Megan E et al. (2014) Effectiveness of topical anesthetics on reducing tactile sensitivity in the paws of newborn rats. Dev Psychobiol 56:126-32
Strain, Misty M; Kauer, Sierra D; Kao, Tina et al. (2014) Inter- and intralimb adaptations to a sensory perturbation during activation of the serotonin system after a low spinal cord transection in neonatal rats. Front Neural Circuits 8:80
Roberto, Megan E; Brumley, Michele R (2014) Prematurely delivered rats show improved motor coordination during sensory-evoked motor responses compared to age-matched controls. Physiol Behav 130:75-84
Brumley, Michele R; Robinson, Scott R (2013) Sensory feedback alters spontaneous limb movements in newborn rats: effects of unilateral forelimb weighting. Dev Psychobiol 55:323-33

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