Why do we move our hand when we touch a hot stove? Why do we throw up our hand when something is thrown in our direction? The Fun Fact that we explore for The Prince and the Pauper Chapter 10 focuses on…
In Chapter 10, Mrs. Canty develops a test to check whether or not the boy in her house is truly her son. It involves testing a long-term reflex that she seen Tom perform over and over again. This naturally led us to wonder, how those reflexes are formed. Keep reading or watch the video for more information on reflexes.
Reference in The Prince and the Pauper
“‘Since that day, when he was little, that the powder burst in his face, he hath never been startled of a sudden out of his dreams or out of his thinkings, but he hath cast his hand before his eyes, even as he did that day; and not as others would do it, with the palm inward, but always with the palm turned outward—I have seen it a hundred times, and it hath never varied nor ever failed. Yes, I shall soon know, now!’” (p. 49)
Mrs. Canty tries to wake “Tom” a number of times throughout to the evening to carry out this test. Obviously, as it is not Tom, he never exhibits the reflex she is looking for. This causes her great distress.
What are reflexes?
Reflexes are involuntary actions your body does in response for something. We are born with many of them, or they develop naturally as we age. Many of those reflexes involve protective movements, such as removing a hand from a hot stove, blinking, and raising an arm if something is thrown at you. Many reflexes start at the muscle or skin and go to the spinal cord.
Our Earliest Reflexes
- Rooting reflex – turning head and opening mouth to find source of milk
- Suck reflex – when the roof of a baby’s mouth is touched, they begin to suck
- Moro reflex – “startle reflex”
- Tonic neck reflex – “fencing position”
- Grasp reflex – closing fingers
- Stepping reflex – “walking/dance reflex”
What makes you flinch?
All animals flinch when they feel threatened. In tests on monkeys, they have studied how the brain reacts when they flinched. They found that the most active part of the brain is a “polysensory zone”. The experiment was conducted using mild puffs of air at the monkey’s faces. The monkeys were also given drugs that either increased or decreased brain activity in the sensory zones.
There were a few findings. First they found that there were two phases to flinching. Part one was the initial startled reaction. Part two was a longer defensive response. The drugs that reduced brain activity only affected the second part of the flinch. This shows that the polysensory zone affects the muscle response to a stimuli. And this area is responsible for reacting to, or flinching at, objects suddenly approaching the body.
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