Scientific Reports

An Embodied Brain Model of the Human Foetus

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Cortical learning via sensorimotor experiences evoked by bodily movements begins as early as the foetal period. However, the learning mechanisms by which sensorimotor experiences guide cortical learning remain unknown owing to technical and ethical difficulties. To bridge this gap, we present an embodied brain model of a human foetus as a coupled brain-body-environment system by integrating anatomical/physiological data. Using this model, we show how intrauterine sensorimotor experiences related to bodily movements induce specific statistical regularities in somatosensory feedback that facilitate cortical learning of body representations and subsequent visual-somatosensory integration. We also show how extrauterine sensorimotor experiences affect these processes. Our embodied brain model can provide a novel computational approach to the mechanistic understanding of cortical learning based on sensorimotor experiences mediated by complex interactions between the body, environment and nervous system.