Pediatric neurology has an interesting background. There are a group of reflexes that turn on the human nervous system. The wiring for all humans starts with another entity called central pattern generators which precede reflexes. I am here today to explain all of these terms.
A central pattern generator otherwise known as a neural oscillator is like our hardwire. The best way explain it is through an example. If I was to hold up a new little baby that just came into the world, I would put their foot on top of a hard surface and we would actually see them step up. Now newborn babies have never practices walking around but the reflexive motor pattern is already inside of our neurology. The twist is that if I were to move my hands away from the baby, they would fall down because their nervous system doesn’t know how to communicate with gravity yet.
There are many steps that wire our brains. The central pattern generators are the hard wired patterns that are in human physiology that generate a reflex. A reflex means that there is no sensory motor component, in fact the reflexes are what’s going to allow the nervous system to then be able to have a sensory motor component.
Starting around the beginning of conception as the baby comes together it has the first reflex known as the withdrawal reflex. These reflexes are priming the nervous system for what is going to turn on, called the moro reflex at around nine weeks of pregnancy. The withdrawal reflex actually creates a pull away motion from the baby inside of your womb. So any stimulus that comes to the baby, the baby is actually going to move away from. This is really important because it is a priming component to the nervous system. Babies need to know how to pull away from something in order to protect themselves. All reflexes lay something down in the neurology and then they grow up.
You still have your withdrawal reflexes today and they are known as crossed extensor reflexes. For example, if I am cooking and I have a couple of pots on my stovetop, if one of my arms skims across a hot pot, it is going to burn. When I quickly pull my arm away from the burn, that is referred to as crossed extensor reflexes. This reflex is turning on in the first 8 weeks of pregnancy. It is important to understand the timing and development of the life that is growing inside you.
Around the ninth week of pregnancy the primitive reflexes start to kick in. The moro reflex is one of the primitive reflexes. It has a lot to do with ADD, ADHD, and anything that can make us struggle with the ability to pay attention. The moro reflex activates three things in the neurology, arousal is one, meaning is the baby waking up? Around two and a half to three hours as a newborn, you need glucose in the brain and glucose is only going to last for about 2 and a half to three hours. The baby will be able to startle itself and be able to wake up for the next feeding. Arousal is actually going to mature up to attention and eventually up to perception. If this reflex does not inhibit in time, this is where we get either an excitability to what we are going to pay attention to or that we are not able to pay attention to with would be an under-aroused state.
It actually turns on two other things in the nervous system, one is the balance between oxygen and carbon monoxide and the other is your sympathetic nervous system. That is your fight or flight response. Our next video will focus on the sympathetic nervous system!