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Exp Brain Res. 2013 Jun;227(4):433-46. doi: 10.1007/s00221-013-3504-6. Epub 2013 May 28.

Correlation properties of spontaneous motor activity in healthy infants: a new computer-assisted method to evaluate neurological maturation.

Author information

1
Department of Pediatric Neurology, University Children's Hospital Bern, PO-Box CH-3010, Bern, Switzerland. sandrawaldmeier@hotmail.com

Abstract

Qualitative assessment of spontaneous motor activity in early infancy is widely used in clinical practice. It enables the description of maturational changes of motor behavior in both healthy infants and infants who are at risk for later neurological impairment. These assessments are, however, time-consuming and are dependent upon professional experience. Therefore, a simple physiological method that describes the complex behavior of spontaneous movements (SMs) in infants would be helpful. In this methodological study, we aimed to determine whether time series of motor acceleration measurements at 40-44 weeks and 50-55 weeks gestational age in healthy infants exhibit fractal-like properties and if this self-affinity of the acceleration signal is sensitive to maturation. Healthy motor state was ensured by General Movement assessment. We assessed statistical persistence in the acceleration time series by calculating the scaling exponent α via detrended fluctuation analysis of the time series. In hand trajectories of SMs in infants we found a mean α value of 1.198 (95 % CI 1.167-1.230) at 40-44 weeks. Alpha changed significantly (p = 0.001) at 50-55 weeks to a mean of 1.102 (1.055-1.149). Complementary multilevel regression analysis confirmed a decreasing trend of α with increasing age. Statistical persistence of fluctuation in hand trajectories of SMs is sensitive to neurological maturation and can be characterized by a simple parameter α in an automated and observer-independent fashion. Future studies including children at risk for neurological impairment should evaluate whether this method could be used as an early clinical screening tool for later neurological compromise.

PMID:
23712684
DOI:
10.1007/s00221-013-3504-6
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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