Cardiac and behavioral responses to repeated tactile and auditory stimulation by preterm and term neonates

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Auditory stimuli (a buzzer and rattle) and a tactile stimulus (a plastic filament) were repeatedly presented to 18 term and 18 preterm infants. Both groups initially responded to all stimuli with increased limb movements and heart rate acceleration. However, only the term infants responded to stimulus repetition by decreasing both cardiac and behavioral responses. In addition, they differentially responded to the 3 stimuli and showed response recovery in both systems. Since a behavioral response decrement was observed without a cardiac response decrement in the preterm group, a 2nd experiment was conducted. Heart rate change during the sucking activity of Exp II revealed an integration between autonomic and motor responsivity of preterm infants comparable to that of term newborns. The lack of cardiac-behavioral response integration during Exp I is discussed in the context of state differences between preterm and term infants as well as potential immaturity or some insult experienced by the preterm infants. The stimulus discrimination and habituation demands of Exp I may have overtaxed the preterm infants' ability to maintain response integration. (23 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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