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Brain Nerve. 2010 Nov;62(11):1211-20.

[Walking abnormalities in children].

[Article in Japanese]

Author information

Segawa Neurological Clinic for Children, Tokyo, Japan.


Walking is a spontaneous movement termed locomotion that is promoted by activation of antigravity muscles by serotonergic (5HT) neurons. Development of antigravity activity follows 3 developmental epochs of the sleep-wake (S-W) cycle and is modulated by particular 5HT neurons in each epoch. Activation of antigravity activities occurs in the first epoch (around the age of 3 to 4 months) as restriction of atonia in rapid eye movement (REM) stage and development of circadian S-W cycle. These activities strengthen in the second epoch, with modulation of day-time sleep and induction of crawling around the age of 8 months and induction of walking by 1 year. Around the age of 1 year 6 months, absence of guarded walking and interlimb cordination is observed along with modulation of day-time sleep to once in the afternoon. Bipedal walking in upright position occurs in the third epoch, with development of a biphasic S-W cycle by the age of 4-5 years. Patients with infantile autism (IA), Rett syndrome (RTT), or Tourette syndrome (TS) show failure in the development of the first, second, or third epoch, respectively. Patients with IA fail to develop interlimb coordination; those with RTT, crawling and walking; and those with TS, walking in upright posture. Basic pathophysiology underlying these condition is failure in restricting atonia in REM stage; this induces dysfunction of the pedunculopontine nucleus and consequently dys- or hypofunction of the dopamine (DA) neurons. DA hypofunction in the developing brain, associated with compensatory upward regulation of the DA receptors causes psychobehavioral disorders in infancy (IA), failure in synaptogenesis in the frontal cortex and functional development of the motor and associate cortexes in late infancy through the basal ganglia (RTT), and failure in functional development of the prefrontal cortex through the basal ganglia (TS). Further, locomotion failure in early childhood causes failure in development of functional specialization of the cortex through the spinal stepping generator-fastigial nucleus-thalamus-cortex pathway. Early detection of locomotion failure and early adjustment of this condition through environmental factors can prevent the development of higher cortical dysfunction.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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