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What is a reflex?

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What is a reflex? Reflexes are automatic reactions that take place without your needing to think about them. If you prick your finger, you jerk your arm away instantly, even before your brain is aware that some damage has taken place. T hese reflexes take place in the spinal cord, where instructions are given to the muscles to pull your arm away as soon as the nerves have detected pain or damage. Reflexes also take place inside the body, maintaining normal conditions.

A reflex starts the flow of digestive juices as soon as food enters the stomach. Another reflex causes a cough if you inhale a piece of fluff, or a blink when you get dirt in your eye.

Reflex action
There is a well-known reflex that you can demonstrate on yourself. Sit upright and cross your legs loosely. Now tap sharply on the leg you have crossed over, just below the kneecap. Your leg will kick gently.

This is because the tap will have stretched the tendon in the front of the knee, and touch receptors interpret this as needing a leg movement to correct the position of the leg. A reflex is immediately set in motion and your leg gives a kick.

As a nerve impulse arrives at the junction between two nerve cells, it is carried across the gap or synapse by chemicals called neurotransmitters. These contact sensitive areas in the next nerve cell, and the nerve impulse is carried along.

Tags: nerves, reflex, brain

Category: Education  - ( Education Archive)

Date Added: 22 December '11

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