Discussion: Primitive; Survival Reflexes.
All healthy babies are born with newborn reflexes: inborn automatic responses to particular forms of stimulation. Reflexes help the newborn survive until it is capable of more complex behaviors—these reflexes are crucial to survival. They are present in babies whose brains are developing normally and usually disappear around 4–5 months old.
Let’s take a look at some of these newborn reflexes.
The rooting reflex is the newborn’s response to anything that touches her cheek: When you stroke a baby’s cheek, she naturally turns her head in that direction and begins to suck.
The sucking reflex is the automatic, unlearned, sucking motions that infants do with their mouths.
Several other interesting newborn reflexes can be observed.
For instance, if you put your finger into a newborn’s hand, you will witness the grasping reflex, in which a baby automatically grasps anything that touches his palms.
The Moro reflex is the newborn’s response when she feels like she is falling. The baby spreads her arms, pulls them back in, and then (usually) cries.
The following video gives a good demonstration of some of these reflexes in a living child.
After viewing the video and reading about reflexive behavior in CH.9, how do you think these reflexes promote survival in the first months of life? In other words, what might have been the function of some of these reflexive behaviors?
Which regions of the brain govern such behavior? How does this behavior help a newborn human adapt?
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