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Lecture 5

FMST 210 Lecture Notes - Lecture 5: Neuroplasticity, Cerebral Cortex, Motor Cortex


Department
Family Studies
Course Code
FMST 210
Professor
Maria Weatherby
Lecture
5

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Chapters 3/4: 

Chapters 3/4: Adaptive Reflexes, Brain Development and Motor Skills
What motor skills do adaptive reflexes regulate in infancy?
*looking at the link between motor skills and adaptive reflexes
1. The palmar reflex occurs when something is placed in the palm of an infant’s hand and
the infant quickly wraps their fingers around the object that touched their palm. Their grip is
typically quite strong (infants can typically hold their own body weight); however, they may release
their fingers/grip quite suddenly. On average, this reflex disappears when an infant is approximately
4-6 months.
1. What triggers it: something has to touch the palm of their hand
2. for some infants palmar reflex is so strong the baby can hold up their own body weight
1. The sucking reflex occurs when something touches the roof of an infant’s mouth. There
are two aspects to the sucking reflex: (1) expression - to express milk from a nipple an infant
instinctively presses the nipple between the roof of their mouth and their tongue, and (2) milking
the infant instinctively moves their tongue from the areola to the nipple to coax milk from the breast.
On average, this reflex disappears when an infant is approximately 4 months.
Allows milk to be expressed as milk needs to be stimulated to flow out
The rooting reflex occurs when anything strokes an infant’s cheek or corner of their
mouth. The infant will automatically turn their head towards the side that was touched. On average,
this reflex disappears when an infant is approximately 3-4 months.
Either has to touch cheek or corner of mouth
A good reflex for breastfeeding
Rooting reflex shows muscle neck reflex of babies to turn their heads
The stepping reflex occurs when the soles of an infant’s feet touch a flat surface. When
infants are held upright with their feet placed on a flat surface, they will lift their legs as if they are
marching or stepping. On average, this reflex disappears when an infant is approximately 8-12
months.
1. The plantar reflex is an infant’s tendency to curl their toes down or away from their shin.
On average, this reflex disappears when an infant is approximately 12 months.
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A tendency similar to when grasping with your feet
Adaptive in that it allows for grasping
Adaptive to crawling; provides proper movement to crawl instead of dragging
How are adaptive reflexes related to brain development and motor skills?
Some adaptive reflexes dont go away
It is widely believed that infants are equipped with adaptive reflexes to enable them to perform
crucial motor skills, which they would otherwise be incapable of performing due to insufficient
brain development at birth.
What aspects of brain development are well established before birth?
The human brain has 100-200 billion neurons. As stated in chapter 3, the production of neurons
jumps into high gear between the 10th to 18th weeks of prenatal development (this process is referred
to as neuronal proliferation). As a result of this ‘rapid neuron manufacturing’ period, most fetuses
have already produced virtually all of the neurons they will ever produce, by the 28th week of
prenatal development.
Rapid production of neurons that happens from 10-18 weeks
Therefore most fetuses have virtually produced all neurons by 28 weeks (most of the
neurons)
If nearly all of a fetus’s neurons are present before birth, then why can’t newborns perform so
many basic motor skills?
Neurons (unlike other cells in our body) are not tightly packed together. As a result, neurons have
tiny gaps or synapses between each other. These gaps or synapses are necessary to allow neurons to
connect/communicate with 100s or 1000s of other neurons. However, in order for neurons to
effectively connect/communicate across these gaps, the neuron structure must further develop.
The reason why though the neurons are already mostly developed, they are not toughing
each other
oBecause theyre not packed together they have to grow these projections from one
neuron to another
What additional neuron structures must develop to enable neurons to effectively
communicate/connect with other neurons?
As stated in chapter 3, when neurons travel from the neuron-manufacturing site (in the embryo’s
neural tube) to their final positions in the brain, neurons consist of cell bodies only. However, once
neurons are in their designated place, they begin to differentiate, establishing their unique functions
by building connections with certain neighboring neurons. Two neuronal structures or projections
enable neurons to form connections with other neurons: dendrites and axons. Dendrites bring
information from other neurons to the cell body (to receive information from other neurons); axons
take information away from the cell body to other neurons (to send information to other neurons).
Consequently, these two projections allow neurons to connect/communicate with each other.
What little babies dont have is dendrites and axons that make them unable to
communicate
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