Primitive reflexes are reflex actions originating in the central nervous system that are exhibited by normal infants, but not neurologically intact adults, in response to particular stimuli. These reflexes are suppressed by the development of the frontal lobes as a child transitions normally into child development. These primitive reflexes are also called infantile, infant or new-born reflexes.
Why Are Primitive Reflexes Important?
From very early on in utero, the primitive reflex movements literally help develop the brain. The movements lay down the patterns of neural networks and myelinisation of pathways that allow the connection of the various areas of the brain that are so important later on for learning, behaviour, communication, relationships and emotional wellbeing.
Integration of the primitive reflexes is important because:
They are the basic of our nervous system and our ability to move
They originate in the brain stem. This area of the brain is responsible for survival. If under stress we are still moving from here then we are not able to easily access our prefrontal cortex where we can process and analyse information. Instead, we stay in survival and stress.
As we get older our unintegrated reflexes trigger the flight/flight response even when there is no ‘logical’ reason for the stress. So stressed behaviour becomes are pattern of responding.
When our movements come from active primitive reflex movement patterns then there are challenges with coordination. This can lead to reading and writing difficulties; language and speech delays; disorganisation; fidgeting; concentration etc. Other challenges may be seen in poor bladder control; breathing difficulties; skin problems; and having an uncontrollable sweet tooth. Low muscle tone; muscle weakness; chronic body aches; poor endurance; and fatigue.