Journal of developmental physiology vol:6 issue:3 pages:187-94
Behavioural states are easy to recognise in healthy neonates with a gestational age of 36 weeks or more. In younger neonates stable behavioural states, as seen at full-term, are not present, but activity cycles exist. In utero stable behavioural states can also be recognised from 36 to 38 weeks onwards. The existence of awake states in utero remains controversial. A close relationship exists between neural mechanisms regulating the behavioural state cycling and those modulating breathing. Our understanding of these is still very limited. The absence of behavioural states or of activity cycles is a very sensitive but non-specific sign of nervous system dysfunction in human perinatal life.