Prenatal Development of Postnatal Functions

Prenatal Development of Postnatal Functions

Prenatal Development of Postnatal Functions

Prenatal Development of Postnatal Functions

Synopsis

This book shows how, and in what ways, prenatal development serves as a preparation for life after birth. Largely, such explanation stemming from the transnatal continuity theory has been ignored in mainstream developmental psychology. However, since the advent of real-time ultrasonography with humans, and increasingly refined experiements with avian and mammalian species, plausible scenarios linking prenatal and postnatal development are beginning to emerge. One is the theory of fetal programming. Here, the authors provide authoritative reviews of current knowledge regarding continuities and discontinuities between prenatal and postnatal development of brain-behavior relationships across a variety of species, including humans.

Excerpt

In the past, most textbooks on developmental psychology tended to ignore the functional significance of prenatal life for postnatal development, despite admonitions from the likes of Carmichael (1954) that such an omission would result in an impoverished understanding of ontogenetic development. To be fair, there was little encouragement at the time for developmental psychologists in general and infancy researchers in particular to regard human prenatal development as anything more than a period of rapid physical growth during which an array of age-related spinal reflexes became established. It was almost as if the ten lunar months of human pregnancy constituted a sort of developmental limbo or suspended state of animation from which the fetus was released only after birth. Paradoxically, the grand theories of development articulated by Piaget and others drew heavily on embryological principles of growth as a means of deriving metaphors for understanding the psychological development of infants and children. Beyond such metaphorical applications, development continued to be portrayed as a process of behavioral change from birth onward.

Such a myopic vision of development began to be dispelled in the early 1980s with evidence of fetal learning derived from ingenious and carefully controlled studies in both humans and other species. At about the same period, real-time ultrasound made its incursion as a research tool for studying fetal behavior under physiological conditions. In . . .

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