Reflectory reaction

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]


A reflex action is involuntary and almost instant movement in response to stimulus.[1] In most contexts, especially involving humans, a reflex action is mediated via the reflex arc (although this is not always true in other animals, or in more casual usage of the term 'reflex'.)

Reflexes are tested as part of a neurological examination to assess damage to or functioning of the central and peripheral nervous system.

Reflexes may be trained, such as during repetition of motor actions during sport practice, or the linking of stimuli with autonomic reactions during classical conditioning.

Reaction time

For a reflex, reaction time or latency is the time from the onset of a stimulus until the organism responds.

In animals, reaction time to visual stimuli is typically 150 to 300 milliseconds.[2]

Human reflexes

The mechanism of the reflex arc. Note that this image includes an interneuron in the monosynaptic patellar reflex for purposes of illustration.

Reflex actions include:

Tendon reflexes

The deep tendon reflexes provide information on the integrity of the central and peripheral nervous system. Generally, decreased reflexes indicate a peripheral problem, and lively or exaggerated reflexes a central one.

While the reflexes above are stimulated mechanically, the term H-reflex refers to the analogous reflex stimulated electrically, and Tonic vibration reflex for those stimulated by vibration.

Reflexes involving cranial nerves

Name Sensory Motor
Pupillary reflex II III
Accommodation reflex II III
Jaw jerk reflex V V
Corneal reflex, also known as the blink reflex V VII
Caloric reflex test/Vestibulo-ocular reflex VIII III, IV, VI +
Gag reflex IX X

Reflexes in infants only

Newborn babies have a number of other reflexes which are not seen in adults, referred to as primitive reflexes.[3] These include:

Other reflexes

Other reflexes found in the human nervous system include:

Processes such as breathing, digestion, and the maintenance of the heartbeat can also be regarded as reflex actions, according to some definitions of the term.

See also

References

  1. Purves (2004). Neuroscience: Third Edition. Massachusetts, Sinauer Associates, Inc.
  2. "Human Benchmark: Reaction Time Statistics". Retrieved 2007-10-11.
  3. http://www.fpnotebook.com/Neuro/Exam/NrlgcExm.htm


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