Reflexes are involuntary and often inborn actions that take place in response to stimuli. Primitive reflexes are replaced by postural reflexes during child development. Locomotion reflexes aid various voluntary movements.
“The theatre is the involuntary reflex of the ideas of the crowd.” ~ Sarah Bernhardt
Have you ever wondered why you often pull your finger away from a sharp pointed object? It is due to reflex. Reflexes refer to involuntary and often inborn actions that take place in response to stimuli, which are detectable changes in either the internal or the external environment. Reflexes are important for protecting the body against harm such as, in the example above, a reflex to avoid hurting the finger by removing it even before a “This will prick you!” message reaches your brain.
As people grow up into maturity, different types of reflexes are exhibited. Malina et al. say that primitive reflexes, also called infantile, infant or newborn reflexes, are those reflexes that begin in the central nervous system that are displayed by normal infants, but not by neurologically intact grown-ups, in response to particular stimuli. As a child moves through normal child development, their presence or absence at the right stage of development is an indication of the child’s state of health. Sally Blythe argues that postural reflexes refer to those reflex actions that assist to maintain the body in upright and balanced position. They also play an important role in providing adjustments essential for sustaining a steady posture during voluntary activities. Jan Piek says that primitive reflexes are sequentially replaced by postural reflexes, which enables the child to gain complete control of the body movements. Locomotion reflexes refer to those reflexes that aid various voluntary movements such as creeping, standing, stepping and even swimming if the child is placed in water.
Blythe, S. (2009). Attention, Balance and Coordination: The A.B.C. of Learning Success. Malden, MA: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Malina, R., Bouchard, C. & Bar-Or, O. (2004). Growth, Maturation, and Physical Activity. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Piek, J. (2006). Infant Motor Development. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.