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Neural Plasticity
Volume 12, Issue 2-3, Pages 131-139

Perinatal Development of the Motor Systems Involved in Postural Control

1Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and Université de la Méditerranée, Laboratoire Plasticité et Physio-Pathologie de la Motricité (UMR6196), CNRS, Marseille cx 20 F-13402, France
231 chemin Joseph Aiguier, Marseille cx 20 F-13402, France
3Département de sciences biologiques, Universite de Montreal, C.P. 6128, Succursale centre-ville, (Qc), Montréal H3C 3J7, Canada

Copyright © 2005 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Motor behaviors of some species, such as the rat and the human baby, are quite immature at birth. Here we review recent data on some of the mechanisms underlying the postnatal maturation of posture in the rat, in particular the development of pathways descending from the brain stem and projecting onto the lumbar enlargement of the spinal cord. A short-lasting depletion in serotonin affects both posture and the excitability of motoneurons. Here we try to extrapolate to human development and suggest that the abnormalities in motor control observed in childhood—e.g, deficits in motor coordination—might have their roots in the prenatal period, in particular serotonin depletion due to exposure to several environmental and toxicological factors during pregnancy.