Perinatal stimulation and adaptation of the neonate

A. E. Ronca, R. A. Abel, J. R. Alberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


The present report describes psychobiological studies of behavior around the time of birth. An adaptive, ecological perspective is presented in which stimulation of the fetus and newborn is purported to instigate adaptive postpartum behavior. Studies describing the perinatal sensory environment are reviewed, with a consideration of emergent sensory function of the fetus. It is asserted that afferent input associated with parturition perturbs the fetus and neonate, producing a general arousal state that facilitates breathing, suckling, and early learning. The view developed herein is that perinatal sensory input induces and canalizes the newborn's behavior, thereby regulating adaptive postpartum function. Deviations in afferent input may alter ontogenetic trajectories and compromise developmental outcome by reducing availability of conditions necessary for adequate postpartum adaptation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-15
Number of pages8
JournalActa Paediatrica, International Journal of Paediatrics, Supplement
Issue number416
StatePublished - Oct 1 1996


  • arousal
  • breathing
  • learning
  • postpartum adaptation
  • suckling


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