An analysis of air-stepping in normal infant vervet monkeys

Joel A. Vilensky, Penny Wilson, Eva Gankiewicz, Douglas W. Townsend

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations


Limb movements during air-stepping were analyzed in three neonatal vervet monkeys over a three-week period. The movements had similar temporal organization both across animals and across time. For example, the duration of both the hind and the forelimb cycle equaled about 500 ms, with the hind limb return strokes lasting much longer than the hind limb power strokes. Furthermore, there were clear indications of both intra- and interlimb coordination. Specifically, all the joints of a limb tended to flex and extend simultaneously, and contralateral and ipsilateral limb pairs had an average phase relationship of approximately 50% of cycle duration. Despite a qualitative similarity between limb movements during air-stepping in the neonates and overground locomotion in older animals, there were notable differences both in temporal relationships and joint displacement patterns. Finally, there appeared to be important similarities between air-stepping in these monkeys and stepping in newborn humans. Most notably, both tended to disappear after a limited period. The implications of these similarities, as well as the overall results, are discussed in relation to the understanding of the development of locomotor behavior in human and nonhuman primates, using approaches based both upon the hard-wired and dynamic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)429-456
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Motor Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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