deep reflex

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a reflected action or movement; the sum total of any particular automatic response mediated by the nervous system. A reflex is built into the nervous system and does not need the intervention of conscious thought to take effect.

The knee jerk is an example of the simplest type of reflex. When the knee is tapped, the nerve that receives this stimulus sends an impulse to the spinal cord, where it is relayed to a motor nerve. This causes the quadriceps muscle at the front of the thigh to contract and jerk the leg up. This reflex, or simple reflex arc, involves only two nerves and one synapse. The leg begins to jerk up while the brain is just becoming aware of the tap.

Other simple reflexes, the stretch reflexes, help the body maintain its balance. Every time a muscle is stretched, it reacts with a reflex impulse to contract. As a person reaches or leans, the skeletal muscles tense and tighten, tending to hold him and keep him from falling. Even in standing still, the stretch reflexes in the skeletal muscles make many tiny adjustments to keep the body erect.

The “hot stove” reflex is more complex, calling into play many different muscles. Before the hand is pulled away, an impulse must go from the sensory nerve endings in the skin to a center in the spinal cord, from there to a motor center, and then out along the motor nerves to shoulder, arm, and hand muscles. Trunk and leg muscles respond to support the body in its sudden change of position, and the head and eyes turn to look at the cause of the injury. All this happens while the person is becoming aware of the burning sensation. A reflex that protects the body from injury, as this one does, is called a nociceptive reflex. Sneezing, coughing, and gagging are similar reflexes in response to foreign bodies in the nose and throat, and the wink reflex helps protect the eyes from injury.

A conditioned reflex is one acquired as the result of experience. When an action is done repeatedly the nervous system becomes familiar with the situation and learns to react automatically, and a new reflex is built into the system. Walking, running, and typewriting are examples of activities that require large numbers of complex muscle coordinations that have become automatic.
Nerve pathway of a simple reflex. When the sensory nerve ending is stimulated, a nerve impulse travels along a sensory (afferent) neuron to the spinal cord. Here an association neuron transfers the impulse to a motor (efferent) neuron. The motor neuron carries the impulse to a muscle, which contracts and moves a body part.
abdominal r's contractions of the abdominal muscles about the navel on stimulating the abdominal skin. It indicates that the spinal cord from the eighth to the twelfth thoracic nerve is intact.
accelerator reflex an increase in heart rate in response to changes in intrathoracic pressure or respiratory rate; see also Bainbridge reflex and cardiac respiratory reflex.
accommodation reflex the coordinated changes that occur when the eye adapts itself for near vision; they are constriction of the pupil, convergence of the eyes, and increased convexity of the lens.
Achilles reflex ankle jerk.
acoustic reflex contraction of the stapedius muscle in response to intense sound.
anal reflex contraction of the anal sphincter on irritation of the anal skin.
ankle reflex Achilles reflex.
auditory reflex any reflex caused by stimulation of the vestibulocochlear nerve; especially momentary closure of both eyes produced by a sudden sound.
Babinski reflex see babinski reflex.
Babkin reflex see babkin reflex.
Bainbridge reflex a rise in pressure in, or increased distension of, the large somatic veins or the right atrium causes acceleration of the heart beat. Called also Bainbridge effect.
baroreceptor reflex the reflex responses to stimulation of baroreceptors of the carotid sinus and aortic arch, regulating blood pressure by controlling heart rate, strength of heart contractions, and diameter of blood vessels.
biceps reflex contraction of the biceps muscle when its tendon is tapped.
bite reflex strong closure of the jaws when the teeth or gums are stimulated.
Brain's reflex extension of a hemiplegic flexed upper limb when a person is in a quadrupedal posture; called also quadrupedal extensor reflex.
bulbocavernosus reflex (bulbospongiosus reflex) contraction of the bulbocavernous muscle in response to a tap on the dorsum of the penis; called also penile reflex.
cardiac respiratory reflex an increase in heart rate caused by an increase in respiratory rate that reduces venous return.
carotid sinus reflex slowing of the heartbeat when pressure is applied to the carotid artery at the level of the cricoid cartilage. See also carotid sinus syndrome.
Chaddock's reflex in lesions of the pyramidal tract, stimulation below the external malleolus causes extension of the great toe; called also Chaddock's sign.
chain reflex a series of reflexes, each serving as a stimulus to the next, making a complete activity.
ciliary reflex the movement of the pupil in accommodation.
ciliospinal reflex dilation of the ipsilateral pupil on painful stimulation of the skin at the side of the neck.
clasp-knife reflex clasp-knife rigidity.
conditioned reflex conditioned response.
conjunctival reflex closure of the eyelid when the conjunctiva is touched.
corneal reflex see corneal reflex.
cough reflex the sequence of events initiated by the sensitivity of the lining of the airways and mediated by the medulla as a consequence of impulses transmitted by the vagus nerve, resulting in coughing, i.e., the clearing of the passageways of foreign matter.
cremasteric reflex contraction of the ipsilateral cremaster muscle, drawing the testis upward, when the upper inner aspect of the thigh is stroked longitudinally.
deep reflex one elicited by a sharp tap on the appropriate tendon or muscle to induce brief stretch of the muscle.
digital reflex Hoffmann's sign (def. 2).
doll's eye reflex doll's eye phenomenon.
embrace reflex Moro reflex.
gag reflex elevation of the soft palate and retching which is elicited by touching the back of the tongue or the wall of the pharynx; called also pharyngeal reflex.
Areas that react in a gag reflex when touched.
gastrocolic reflex increase in intestinal peristalsis after food enters the empty stomach.
gastroileal reflex increase in ileal motility and opening of the ileocecal valve when food enters the empty stomach.
grasp reflex flexion or clenching of the fingers or toes on stimulation of the palm of the hand or sole of the foot.
Hering-Breuer r's see hering-breuer reflexes.
Hoffmann's reflex Hoffmann's sign (def. 2).
jaw reflex (jaw-jerk reflex) closure of the mouth caused by a downward blow on the passively hanging chin; rarely seen in health but very noticeable in corticospinal tract lesions.
knee reflex knee jerk.
light reflex
1. constriction of the pupil when a light is shone into the same (direct light reflex) or the opposite eye (indirect or consensual light reflex).
2. a luminous image reflected when light strikes the normal tympanic membrane.
Magnus and de Kleijn neck r's extension of both limbs on the same side, or one limb or part of a limb, with increase of tonus on the side to which the chin is turned when the head is rotated, and flexion with loss of tonus on the side to which the occiput points; it usually indicates decerebrate rigidity.
Mayer's reflex opposition and adduction of the thumb combined with flexion at the metacarpophalangeal joint and extension at the interphalangeal joint, on downward pressure of the index finger.
Mendel-Bekhterev reflex dorsal flexion of the second to fifth toes on percussion of the dorsum of the foot; in certain organic nervous disorders, plantar flexion occurs.
micturition reflex any of the reflexes necessary for effortless urination and subconscious maintenance of continence.
Moro reflex see moro reflex.
myotatic reflex stretch reflex.
neck righting reflex rotation of the trunk in the direction in which the head of the supine infant is turned; this reflex is absent or decreased in infants with spasticity.
nociceptive r's reflexes initiated by painful stimuli; see also nociceptor and pain.
oculocephalic reflex doll's eye phenomenon.
orbicularis pupillary reflex unilateral contraction of the pupil, followed by dilatation after closure or attempted closure of eyelids that are forcibly held apart.
palatal reflex (palatine reflex) stimulation of the palate causes swallowing. Called also swallowing reflex.
paradoxical pupillary reflex reversed pupillary reflex.
patellar reflex knee jerk.
penile reflex bulbocavernosus reflex.
pharyngeal reflex gag reflex.
pilomotor reflex the production of goose flesh on stroking of the skin.
placing reflex flexion followed by extension of the leg when the infant is held erect and the dorsum of the foot is drawn along the under edge of a table top; it is obtainable in the normal infant up to the age of six weeks.
plantar reflex plantar flexion of the foot when the ankle is grasped firmly and the lateral border of the sole is stroked or scratched from the heel toward the toes.
proprioceptive reflex a reflex that is initiated by stimuli arising from some function of the reflex mechanism itself.
psychogalvanic reflex decreased electrical resistance of the body due to emotional or mental agitation.
pupillary reflex
1. contraction of the pupil on exposure of the retina to light.
2. any reflex involving the iris, resulting in change in the size of the pupil, occurring in response to various stimuli, e.g., change in illumination or point of fixation, sudden loud noise, or emotional stimulation.
quadriceps reflex knee jerk.
quadrupedal extensor reflex Brain's reflex.
red reflex a luminous red appearance seen upon the retina in retinoscopy.
reversed pupillary reflex any abnormal pupillary reflex opposite of that which occurs normally; e.g., stimulation of the retina by light dilates the pupil. Called also paradoxical pupillary reflex.
righting reflex the ability to assume an optimal position when there has been a departure from it.
rooting reflex a reflex in the newborn in which stimulation of the side of the cheek or upper or lower lip causes the infant to turn the mouth and face to the stimulus.
Rossolimo's reflex in pyramidal tract lesions, plantar flexion of the toes on tapping their plantar surface.
spinal reflex any reflex action mediated through a center of the spinal cord.
startle reflex Moro reflex.
stepping reflex movements of progression elicited when the infant is held upright and inclined forward with the soles of the feet touching a flat surface; it is obtainable in the normal infant up to the age of six weeks.
stretch reflex reflex contraction of a muscle in response to passive longitudinal stretching.
sucking reflex sucking movements of the lips of an infant elicited by touching the lips or the skin near the mouth.
suck-swallow reflex rhythmical sucking and swallowing movements in an infant when a finger or nipple is placed in the mouth.
superficial reflex any withdrawal reflex elicited by noxious or tactile stimulation of the skin, cornea, or mucous membrane, including the corneal, pharyngeal, and cremasteric reflexes.
swallowing reflex palatal reflex.
tendon reflex contraction of a muscle caused by percussion of its tendon.
tonic neck reflex extension of the upper limb and sometimes the lower limb on the side to which the head is forcibly turned, with flexion of the contralateral limbs; seen normally in the newborn. If it persists into the second or third year of life, it indicates a neurologic disorder.
triceps reflex contraction of the belly of the triceps muscle and slight extension of the upper limb when the tendon of the muscle is tapped directly, with the limb flexed and fully supported and relaxed.
triceps surae reflex Achilles reflex.
vestibular r's the reflexes for maintaining the position of the eyes and body in relation to changes in orientation of the head.
vestibulo-ocular reflex nystagmus or deviation of the eyes in response to stimulation of the vestibular system by angular acceleration or deceleration or when the caloric test is performed.
vomiting reflex the reflex for vomiting, caused by reflexive stimulation of muscles of the gastrointestinal tract and throat; it is mediated by centers in the medulla oblongata and can be set in motion by a variety of stimuli. See also gag reflex.
Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.

deep re·flex

an involuntary muscular contraction following percussion of a tendon or bone.
Synonym(s): jerk (2)
Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012

deep reflex

An involuntary muscular contraction following percussion of a tendon or bone.
The American Heritage® Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2007, 2004 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.


(re'fleks?) [L. reflexus, bending back]
An involuntary response or action to a stimulus. Reflexes are specific and predictable and are usually purposeful and adaptive. They depend on an intact neural pathway between the stimulation point and a responding organ. This pathway is called the reflex arc. In a simple reflex this includes a sensory receptor, afferent or sensory neuron, reflex center in the brain or spinal cord, one or more efferent neurons, and an effector organ. Most reflexes, however, are more complicated and include internuncial or associative neurons intercalated between afferent and efferent neurons. See: reflex arc for illus

abdominal reflex

Contraction of the muscles of the abdominal wall when the overlying skin is stimulated. Absence of this reflex indicates damage to the pyramidal tract.

abdominocardiac reflex

A change in heart rate, usually a slowing, resulting from mechanical stimulation of abdominal viscera.

accommodation reflex

Any of the changes that take place as the eye adjusts to bring light rays from an object to focus on the retina. This involves a change in the size of the pupil, convergence or divergence of the eyes, and either a decrease or an increase in the convexity of the lens depending on the previous condition of the lens. Synonym: near reflex

Achilles tendon reflex

See: Achilles tendon reflex

Achilles reflex

See: Achilles tendon reflex

acoustic blink reflex

Involuntary closure of the eyelids after exposure to a sharp, sudden noise. This is a normal startle response that may be exaggerated in patients with anxiety disorders or hyperacusis. It may be blunted in infants or adults with a hearing disorder or facial nerve paralysis.

acquired reflex

Conditioned reflex.

acromial reflex

Flexion of the forearm and internal rotation of the hand as a result of a quick blow to the acromion. It is elicited in hyperreflexic states.

adductor reflex

Contraction of the adductor muscles of the thigh on applying pressure to or tapping the medial surface of the thigh or knee.

allied reflex

Any of the reflexes initiated by several stimuli originating in widely separated receptors whose impulses follow the final common path to the effector organ and reinforce one another.

anal reflex

Contraction of the anal sphincter following irritation or stimulation of the skin around the anus. This reflex is lost if the second to fourth sacral nerves are injured. Synonym: anal wink

ankle clonus reflex

A reflex elicited by quick, vigorous dorsiflexion of the foot while the knee is held in a flexed position, resulting in repeated clonic movement of the foot as long as it is maintained in dorsiflexion. In women with pregnancy-induced hypertension, this reflects hyperirritability of the central nervous system and increased risk for eclamptic convulsions.

ankle reflex

Achilles tendon reflex.

antagonistic reflexes

Two or more reflexes initiated simultaneously in different receptors that involve the same motor center but produce opposite effects.

asymmetrical tonic neck reflex

In an infant, extension of one or both extremities on the side to which the head is forcibly turned. Flexion of the extremities occurs on the other side.

attention reflex

Change in the size of the pupil when attention is suddenly fixed.

audito-oculogyric reflex

The sudden turning of the head and eyes toward an alarming sound.

auditory reflex

Any reflex produced by stimulation of the auditory nerve, esp. blinking of the eyes at the sudden unexpected production of a sound.

auriculocervical nerve reflex

Snellen reflex.

auriculopalpebral reflex

Kisch reflex.

autonomic reflex

Any reflex involving the response of a visceral effector (cardiac muscle, smooth muscle, or gland). Such reflexes always involve two efferent neurons (preganglionic and postganglionic).

axon reflex

A reflex that does not involve a complete reflex arc and hence is not a true reflex. Its afferent and efferent limbs are branches of a single nerve fiber, the axon (axon-like dendrite) of a sensory neuron. An example is vasodilation resulting from stimulation of the skin.

Babinski reflex

See: Babinski, Joseph-François-Felix

Bainbridge reflex

See: Bainbridge, Francis Arthur

Bechterew reflex

See: Bechterew, Vladimir Mikhailovich

biceps reflex

Flexion of the forearm on percussion of the tendon of the biceps brachii.

blink reflex

Sudden closing of the eyelids in response to turning of the head, loud noises, bright lights, or visual threats. Absence of this reflex occurs in blindness and in injuries to cranial nerves III, V, and VII.

Brain reflex

See: Brain reflex

bregmocardiac reflex

A reduced heart rate following pressure on the anterior fontanel.

Breuer-Hering reflex

Hering-Breur reflex.

Brissaud reflex

See: Brissaud, Édouard

bulbocavernosus reflex

Contraction of bulbocavernosus muscle on percussing the dorsum of the penis.
Synonym: virile reflex

bulbomimic reflex

Synonym: Facial reflex

bulbospongiosus reflex

Contraction of bulbospongiosus muscle on percussing the dorsum of the penis.

cardiac reflex

An involuntary response consisting of a change in cardiac rate. Stimulation of sensory nerve endings in the wall of the carotid sinus by increased arterial blood pressure reflexively slows the heart (Marey law). Stimulation of vagus fibers in the right side of the heart by increased venous return reflexively increases the heart rate (Bainbridge reflex).

cardiovascular reflex

1. A sympathetic increase in heart rate when there is increased pressure in or distention of great veins.
2. Reflex vasoconstriction resulting from reduced venous pressure.

carotid sinus reflex

A slowing of the heart rate and a fall in blood pressure when the carotid sinus is massaged. Carotid sinus massage may be used therapeutically to treat paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia.

cat's eye reflex

In children, an abnormal pupillary flash or reflection from the eye that may be momentary; may be white, yellow, or pink; and is best seen under diminished natural illumination. This reflex, which may be noticed first by a parent, may be caused by various conditions, the most important of which is retinoblastoma. It is also observed in tuberous sclerosis, inflammatory eye diseases, and some congenital malformations of the eye.
See: retinoblastoma

Chaddock reflex

See: Chaddock reflex

chain reflex

A reflex initiated by several separate serial reflexes, each activated by the preceding one.

chemical reflex


chin reflex

A clonic movement resulting from percussion or stroking of the lower jaw.
Synonym: jaw jerk; jaw reflex

ciliary reflex

The normal contraction of the pupil in accommodation of vision from distant to near.

ciliospinal reflex

Dilation of the pupil after stimulation of the skin of the neck by pinching or scratching.

clasp-knife reflex

Quick inhibition of the stretch reflex when extensor muscles are forcibly stretched by flexing the limb.

cochleo-orbicular reflex

Cochleopalpebral reflex.

cochleopalpebral reflex

Contraction of the orbicularis palpebrarum muscle resulting from a sudden noise produced near the ear. Synonym: cochleo-orbicular reflex

conditioned reflex

A reflex acquired as a result of training in which the cerebral cortex plays an essential part. Conditioned reflexes are learned, not inborn or inherited. Synonym: acquired reflex

conjunctival reflex

Closure of eyelids when the conjunctiva is touched or threatened.

consensual reflex

Crossed reflex.

consensual light reflex

The reaction of both pupils that occurs when one eye is exposed to a greater intensity of light than the other. See: pupillary reflex

contralateral reflex

1. Passive flexion of one part following flexion of another.
2. Passive flexion of one leg, causing similar movement of the opposite leg.

convulsive reflex

A reflex induced by a weak stimulus and causing widespread uncoordinated and purposeless muscle contractions, seen in strychnine poisoning.

corneal reflex

Closure of eyelids resulting from direct corneal irritation. This reflex is mediated by the fifth cranial nerve.
Synonym: lid reflex

corneomandibular reflex

Deflexion of the mandible toward the opposite side when the cornea is irritated while the mouth is open and relaxed.

cranial reflex

Any reflex whose origin is in the brain.

cremasteric reflex

Retraction of the testis when the skin is stroked on the inner front side of the thigh.

crossed reflex

A reflex in which stimulation of one side of the body results in response on the opposite side. Synonym: consensual reflex; indirect reflex

crossed extension reflex

An extension of the lower extremity on the opposite side when a painful stimulus is applied to the skin.

cry reflex

1. The normal ability of an infant to cry. It is not usually present in premature infants.
2. The spontaneous crying by infants during sleep.

dartos muscle reflex

A wormlike contraction of the dartos muscle after a sudden application of cold to the perineum. When the dartos muscle fibers contract, the scrotal skin becomes wrinkled and is held close to the testes

deep reflex

Deep tendon reflex.

deep tendon reflex

Abbreviation: DTR
An automatic motor response elicited by stimulating stretch receptors in subcutaneous tissues surrounding joints and tendons. The assessment of DTRs is typically made by striking a tendon (such as the Achilles or brachioradialis tendons) with a weighted hammer. Brisk or hyperactive responses are seen in conditions such as hyperthyroidism, stroke, preeclampsia, or spastic disorders. Diminished responses may be seen in patients with hypothyroidism, drug intoxication, and flaccid neuromuscular disorders. Synonym: deep reflex; muscle stretch reflex See: clonus; knee-jerk reflex

defense reflex

Retraction or tension in response to an action or threatened action.

delayed reflex

A reflex that does not occur until several seconds after the application of a stimulus.

depressor reflex

A reflex that results in slowed muscle activity, as in the heart rate.

digital reflex

Sudden flexion of the terminal phalanx of a finger or thumb when the nail is suddenly tapped.

direct reflex

A reflex in which response occurs on the same side as the stimulus.

direct light reflex

Prompt contraction of the sphincter of the iris when light entering through the pupil strikes the retina.

diving reflex

Slowing of the heart rate when a person's head is immersed in water. This reflex helps to protect a person from drowning, esp. in cold water.
See: drowning

dorsal reflex

Lumbar reflex.

elbow reflex

Triceps reflex.

elementary reflex

A typical reflex common to all vertebrates that includes the postural, flexion, stretch, and extensor thrust reflexes.

embrace reflex

Moro reflex.

epigastric reflex

Contraction of the upper portion of the rectus abdominis muscle when the skin of the epigastric region is scratched.

Erben reflex

See: Erben reflex

erector spinae reflex

Lumbar reflex.

Escherich reflex

See: Escherich reflex

extensor plantar reflex

Extension of the great toe when the sole of the foot is stimulated.
See: Babinski reflex

extensor thrust reflex

A quick and brief extension of a limb when pressure is applied to its plantar surface.

extrusion reflex

An infantile reflex in which the tongue moves outward after it has been touched. It is present from birth to 4 months.

eyelid closure reflex

Contraction of the orbicularis palpebrarum muscle with closure of lids resulting from percussion above the supraorbital nerve. Synonym: McCarthy reflex; supraorbital reflex

facial reflex

In coma, contraction of facial muscles when pressure is applied to the eyeball. Synonym: bulbomimic reflex; Mondonesi reflex

fascial reflex

Muscular contraction resulting from percussing facial fascia.

femoral reflex

Extension of the knee and flexion of the foot resulting from irritation of the skin over the upper anterior third of the thigh.

fencing reflex

Tonic neck reflex.

flexor withdrawal reflex

Flexion of a body part in response to a painful stimulus. Synonym: withdrawal reflex

front-tap reflex

Contraction of the gastrocnemius muscle when stretched muscles of the extended leg are percussed.

gag reflex

Gagging and vomiting resulting from irritation of the throat or pharynx.

Galant reflex

See: Galant reflex

gastrocolic reflex

A peristaltic wave in the colon induced by entrance of food into the stomach.

gastroileac reflex

The physiological relaxation of the ileocecal valve resulting from food in the stomach.

Gault reflex

See: Gault reflex

Geigel reflex

See: Geigel reflex

Gifford reflex

See: Gifford reflex

glabellar reflex

Blinking of the eyes when the forehead just above the bridge of the nose is tapped. In most people, blinking stops after a few taps on the forehead. If it does not, significant brain disease may be present, e.g., Parkinson disease or any disease that causes frontal lobe atrophy.

gluteal reflex

Contraction of the gluteal muscles from stimulation of the overlying skin.

Gordon reflex

See: Gordon reflex

grasp reflex

The grasping reaction of the fingers and toes when they are stimulated. This reflex is normal in the newborn but disappears as the nervous system matures. It may reappear later in life if a person suffers an injury to the frontal lobes of the brain.

Grünfelder reflex

See: Grünfelder reflex

H reflex

In electrodiagnostic studies of spinal reflexes, the time required for a stimulus applied to a sensory nerve to travel to the spinal cord and return down the motor nerve.
See: F response

Haab reflex

See: Haab reflex

heart reflex

Any reflex, such as the Bainbridge reflex, in which the stimulation of a sensory nerve causes the heart rate to increase or decrease.

Hering-Breuer reflex

See: Hering-Breuer reflex

Hirschberg reflex

Hirschberg reflex.

Hoffmann reflex

See: Hoffmann, Johann

hung-up reflex

Slowness of the relaxation phase of deep tendon reflexes. It is present in hypothyroidism.

hypochondrial reflex

Sudden inspiration resulting from abrupt pressure below the costal border.

inborn reflex

An unconditioned reflex; an innate or inherited reflex.

indirect reflex

Crossed reflex.

inflation reflex

Hering-Breuer reflex.

inguinal reflex

Contractions of the musculature in the female groin when the upper thigh is scratched.
See: Geigel reflex

interscapular reflex

A scapular muscular contraction after percussion or stimulus between the scapulae.

intersegmental reflex

A reflex involving several segments of the spinal cord. Synonym: long reflex

intestinal reflex

Myenteric reflex.

intrasegmental reflex

A reflex that involves only a single segment of the spinal cord.

jaw reflex

Chin reflex.

Joffroy reflex

See: Joffroy reflex

Juster reflex

See: Juster reflex

kinetic reflex

Labyrinthine righting reflex.

Kisch reflex

See: Kisch reflex

knee-jerk reflex

Extension of the leg after percussion of the patellar tendon. This is one of the myotatic or stretch reflexes important in maintaining posture.
Synonym: patellar reflex; quadriceps reflex

Kocher reflex

See: Kocher reflex

labyrinthine righting reflex

A reflex, esp. a postural reflex, resulting from stimulation of receptors in the semicircular ducts, utricle, and saccule of the inner ear. This reflex helps orient the head in space and to the rest of the body.
Synonym: kinetic reflex; optical righting reflex; tonic labyrinthine reflex

lacrimal reflex

Secretion of fluid after irritation of the corneal conjunctiva.

Landau reflex

See: Landau reflex

laryngeal reflex

Coughing from irritation of the larynx or fauces.

laughter reflex

Uncontrollable laughter resulting from tickling or the fear of tickling.

letdown reflex

The movement of breast milk from the alveoli into the lactiferous ducts in response to oxytocin-stimulated contractions. The reflex may be stimulated by suckling or by an infant's crying. Stimulation of the nipple increases the secretion of oxytocin. This technique may be used to stimulate contraction of the postpartum uterus.

lid reflex

Corneal reflex.

light reflex

Constriction of the pupil when light is flashed into the eye.

lip reflex

The reflex movement of the lips when the angle of the mouth is suddenly and lightly tapped during sleep.

local reflex

A reflex that does not involve the central nervous system, e.g., the myenteric reflex, which occurs even when extrinsic nerves to the intestine have been cut.

long reflex

Intersegmental reflex.

Lovén reflex

See: Lovén reflex

lumbar reflex

An irritation of the skin over the erector spinae muscles, causing contraction of the back muscles.
Synonym: dorsal reflex; erector spinae reflex

Lust reflex

See: Lust reflex

Magnus-de Kleijn reflex

In decerebrate rigidity, extension of the limbs on the side to which the chin is turned by rotating the head. There is flexion of the limbs on the opposite side.

mandibular reflex

Clonic movement resulting from percussing or stroking the lower jaw.

mass reflex

Autonomic dysfunction that may occur as a late consequence of transection of the spinal cord. It is marked by episodes of sweating, bradycardia, hypotension, urinary incontinence, and muscular spasms of the legs.

Mayer reflex

See: Mayer reflex

Mendel reflex

See: Mendel, Kurt

Mendel-Bechterew reflex

See: Mendel-Bechterew reflex

McCormac reflex

See: McCormac reflex

monosynaptic reflex

A reflex involving only two neurons (afferent and efferent).

Moro reflex

See: Moro reflex

muscle stretch reflex

Deep tendon reflex.

myenteric reflex

Reflex caused by distention of the intestine, resulting in contraction above the point of stimulation and relaxation below it. Synonym: intestinal reflex

myotatic reflex

Stretch reflex.

nasal reflex

Sneezing resulting from irritation of nasal mucosa.

nasomental reflex

Contraction of the mentalis muscle with elevation of lower lip and wrinkling of skin of chin. The reflex is elicited by percussion of the side of the nose.

near reflex

Accommodation reflex.

neck-righting reflex

In a reclining infant, rotation of the trunk in the same direction in which the head is turned. This reflex appears at age 4 to 6 months and is no longer obtainable by age 2 years.

nociceptive reflex

A reflex initiated by a painful stimulus.

nostril reflex

Reduction of the opening of the naris on the affected side in lung disease in proportion to lessened alveolar air capacity on the affected side.

obliquus reflex

Contraction of the entire external obliquus muscle when the skin of the thigh below the inguinal ligament is simulated.

oculocardiac reflex

See: Aschner phenomenon

oculodigital reflex

A form of blindism characterized by repetitive rubbing of the eyes with fingers or the hands.
See: blindism

oculocephalic reflex

The deviation of a person's eyes to the opposite side when the head is rapidly rotated. This is a normal finding in neonates. In adults it is indicative of coma. Synonym: doll's eye movement

Onanoff reflex

See: Onanoff reflex

optical blink reflex

Involuntary closure of the eyelids after exposure to a bright light. Shining a bright light at an infant's eyes causes the eyes to blink and the head to flex backward. If this reflex is absent, further testing of cranial nerves II, III, IV, and VI is required.

optical righting reflex

Labyrinthine righting reflex.

palatal reflex

Swallowing induced by stimulation of the soft palate.

palmar grasp reflex

A normal reflex in a the newborn in which the baby's fingers spontaneously curl around any object placed within them and do not spontaneously let go. This reflex usually diminishes by age 3 to 4 months and disappears before age 6 months. The reflex reappears later in life in diseases that affect the frontal lobes of the brain.

palmar reflex

Swallowing induced by stimulation of the soft palate.

palmomental reflex

A contraction of the superficial muscles of the eye and chin produced on the same side as the palmar area that is stimulated by an examiner. This is an abnormal finding and indicates frontal disease.

parachute reflex

Extension of an infant's arms, hands, and fingers when the infant is suspended in the prone position and dropped a short distance onto a soft surface. This reaction appears at age 9 months and persists. An asymmetrical response indicates a motor nerve abnormality.
Synonym: parachute response

paradoxical reflex

A response to a stimulus that is unexpected and may be the opposite of what is considered normal.

patellar reflex

Knee-jerk reflex.

pathological reflex

Any abnormal reflex due to disease.

penile reflex

1. Sudden downward movement of the penis when the prepuce or gland of a completely relaxed penis is pulled upward. Synonym: virile reflex
2. Contraction of the bulbocavernous muscle on percussing the dorsum of the penis. Synonym: virile reflex
3. Contraction of the bulbocavernous muscle resulting from compression of the glans penis. Synonym: virile reflex

pharyngeal reflex

An attempt to swallow when the pharynx is stimulated.

pilomotor reflex

Piloerection when the skin is cooled or as a result of emotional reaction.

Piltz reflex

See: Piltz reflex

placing reflex

Flexion and then extension of an infant's leg that occurs when the infant is held erect and the dorsum of one foot is dragged along the underedge of a table top. This reflex lasts from birth until age 6 weeks.

plantar reflex

See: plantar grasp

plantar grasp reflex

A grasp reflex resulting from gentle stimulation of the sole of the foot. This reflex lasts from birth until age 10 months. Synonym: sole reflex

platysmal reflex

Dilation of the pupil resulting from sharp pinching of the platysma myoides.

pneocardiac reflex

A change in the rate and rhythm of the heart and blood pressure when an irritant vapor is inhaled.

pneopneic reflex

A change in respiratory depth and rate, coughing, suffocation, and pulmonary edema when an irritant vapor is inhaled.

postural reflex

Any reflex concerned with maintaining posture.

pressor reflex

A reflex in which the response to stimulation is an increase in blood pressure caused by constriction of arterioles.

proprioceptive reflex

A reflex initiated by body movement to maintain the position of the moved part; any reflex initiated by stimulation of a proprioceptor.

psychogalvanic reflex

Decreased electric resistance of the skin in response to emotional stress or stimuli.

pupillary reflex

1. Constriction of the pupil upon stimulation of the retina by light. This reflex is mediated by the third cranial nerve.
2. Constriction of the pupil upon accommodation for near vision, and dilatation upon accommodation for far vision.
3. Constriction of the pupil of one eye in response to stimulation of the other by light.
4. Constriction of the pupil upon attempted closure of eyelids that are held apart.

pupillomotor reflex

Purkinje phenomenon.

quadriceps reflex

Knee-jerk reflex.

quadrupedal reflex

Extension of the flexed arm on assuming a quadrupedal posture.

quadrupedal extensor reflex

Brain reflex.

radial reflex

Flexion of forearm resulting when the lower end of the radius is percussed.

rectal reflex

The normal desire to evacuate feces present in the rectum.

red eye reflex

Red reflex

red reflex

The red light reflection seen in ophthalmoscopic examination of the eye.
Synonym: red eye reflex

righting reflex

Any of the reflexes that enable an animal to maintain its body in a definite relationship to its head and thus maintain its body right side up.

rooting reflex

The turning of an infant's mouth toward the stimulus when the infant's cheek is stroked. This reflex is present at birth; by age 4 months it is gone when the infant is awake; by age 7 months it is gone when the infant is asleep.

Rossolimo reflex

See: Rossolimo reflex

Ruggeri reflex

See: Ruggeri reflex

scapular reflex

Muscular contraction following percussion or stimulus between the scapulae.

scapulohumeral reflex

A reflex in which the upper arm is adducted and rotated outward when the vertebral border of the scapula is percussed.

Schäffer reflex

See: Schäffer reflex

scrotal reflex

Slow vermicular contraction of the scrotal muscle when the perineum is stroked or cold is applied.

segmental reflex

A reflex in which afferent impulses enter the cord in the same segment or segments from which the efferent impulses emerge.

sexual reflex

A reflex concerned with sexual activities, esp. erection and ejaculation, which results from direct genital stimulation or indirectly from emotion, whether the individual is asleep or awake.

short reflex

A reflex involving one or a few segments of the spinal cord.

simple reflex

A reflex in which only two or possibly three neurons are interposed between receptor and effector organs.

Snellen reflex

See: Snellen, Herman

solar sneeze reflex

A sneeze following exposure to bright sunlight. This reflex is and affects a great number of normal people; it may also be associated with rhinitis. The mechanism of the cause of this type of sneeze reflex is unknown.

sole reflex

Plantar grasp reflex.

somatic reflex

A reflex induced by stimulation of somatic sensory nerve endings.

spinal reflex

A reflex whose center is in the spinal cord.

startle reflex

Moro reflex.

static reflex

A reflex concerned with establishing and maintaining posture when the body is at rest.

statokinetic reflex

A reflex that occurs when the body is moving.

stepping reflex

Movements of progression elicited by holding an infant upright, inclined forward, and touching the soles of the feet to a flat surface. This reflex lasts from birth to age 6 weeks.

stretch reflex

The contraction of a muscle caused by quick stretching of that muscle. Stretch reflexes are of primary importance in the maintenance of posture.
Synonym: myotatic reflex

sucking reflex

A sucking movement of an infant's mouth produced by stroking the lips. A primitive form of this reflex is present in the fetus by the 16th week of gestation; it is fully developed by the time of birth. In adults, the presence of a sucking reflex is an indicator of severe dementia, frontal lobe disease, or extrapyramidal diseases.

superficial reflex

A cutaneous reflex caused by irritation of the skin or of areas that depend on the spinal cord as a motor center (such as the scapular, epigastric, and plantar reflexes) or on centers in the medulla (such as the conjunctival, pupillary, and palatal reflexes). This reflex is induced by a very light stimulus, e.g., stroking the skin lightly with a soft cotton swab.

supraorbital reflex

Eyelid closure reflex.

suprapubic reflex

Deflection of the linea alba toward the stroked side when the abdomen is stroked above the inguinal ligament.

swallowing reflex

Involuntary muscular activity in the oropharynx and nasopharynx when foods, tongue depressors, or other objects stimulate the back of the throat. This reflex is mediated by the deglutition center of the medulla oblongata, i.e., by cranial nerves VII, IX, X, and XI.

symmetrical tonic neck reflex

In an infant, flexion or extension of the arms in response to flexion and extension, respectively, of the neck.

tendon reflex

A deep reflex obtained by sharply tapping the skin over the tendon of a muscle. It is exaggerated in upper neuron disease and diminished or lost in lower neuron disease.

testis compression reflex

Contraction of abdominal muscles following moderate compression of a testis.

Throckmorton reflex

See: Throckmorton reflex

toe reflex

A reflex in which strong flexion of the great toe flexes all the muscles below the knee.

tibioadductor reflex

Adduction of either the stimulated leg or the opposite one when the tibia is percussed on the inner side.

tonic labyrinthine reflex

Labyrinthine righting reflex.

tonic neck reflex

The ipsilateral extension and contralateral flexion of the supine infant's extremities when the head is turned to one side. This normal newborn reflex may not be evident immediately after birth; however, once it appears, it persists until about the third postnatal month. Synonym: fencing reflex

tonic vibration reflex

Abbreviation: TVR
A polysynaptic reflex believed to depend on spinal and supraspinal pathways.

triceps reflex

Sharp extension of the forearm resulting from tapping of the triceps tendon while the arm is held loosely in a bent position. Synonym: elbow jerk; elbow reflex

triceps surae reflex

Achilles tendon reflex.

true autonomic reflex

A visceral response in which afferent impulses do not pass through the central nervous system but enter prevertebral ganglia where connections are made with efferent neurons.

unconditioned reflex

A reflex that is not acquired but is natural or inherited.

urinary reflex

A spinal cord reflex, initiated by accumulated urine stretching the bladder and the resulting contraction of the bladder to expel urine.

vascular reflex

Vasomotor reflex.

vasomotor reflex

The constriction or dilatation of a blood vessel in response to a stimulus, as in becoming pale from fright. Synonym: vascular reflex

vesical reflex

An inclination to urinate caused by moderate bladder distention.

vestibulocollic reflex

A reaction that stabilizes the position of the head according to sensory information from the labyrinth of the ear and the nerves in the neck.

virile reflex

1. Bulbocavernosus reflex.
2. Penile reflex.

visceral reflex

Any reflex induced by stimulation of the visceral nerves.

visceromotor reflex

Contraction or tenseness of the skeletal muscles resulting from painful stimuli originating in visceral organs.

viscerosensory reflex

Pain or tenderness elicited in somatic structures (skin and muscle) caused by visceral disorder.
See: referred pain

withdrawal reflex

Flexor withdrawal reflex.


The movement of the lower jaw toward the percussed side when the zygomatic bone is percussed.
Medical Dictionary, © 2009 Farlex and Partners