General movements

Florinda Ceriani, Isabella Fabietti, Roberto Fogliani, Alessandra Kustermann

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


General movements, also called total pattern or holokinetic movements (from the Greek holos meaning whole and kinema meaning motion) emerge as periodic bursts of whole-body activity and are one of the earliest and most dramatic forms of fetal movement. In 1929, the American anatomist Coghill, studying the aquatic stage of development of the amphibian lizard Amblystoma, was the first to describe and distinguish between 'total and partial patterns of motion'. Coghill postulated that the same distinction could apply to human fetuses, which he viewed as similar to amphibians: creatures living in an aquatic medium, but preparing to enter a terrestrial one [1]. Then, in the early 1950s, Hooker noted that local movements appeared later in development than 'total pattern' ones [2]. Because his observations were performed directly on human fetuses, Hooker's remarks are still widely quoted in reference to the emergence of particular fetal sensitivities. However, it was only with the advent of ultrasonography that naturally occurring general movements were observed in the healthy fetus living within its natural environment and differentiated from localized motions.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDevelopment of Normal Fetal Movements: The First 25 Weeks of Gestation
PublisherSpringer Milan
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)9788847014015
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • angle
  • Brainstem
  • Central nervous system
  • Central pattern generators
  • General movements
  • Hypotonia
  • Kyphotic
  • Lordosis
  • Motor patterns
  • Myotubes
  • Nuchal tone
  • Opisthotonus
  • Popliteal
  • Primitive stepping
  • Supine kicking
  • Volar pads

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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