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Physiology - Reflexes

Physiology - Reflexes

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Published by: Std Dlshsi on Feb 25, 2011
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REFLEXESDefinition of Reflex
a stereotyped response to specificstimulus; any response that occur automatically withoutconscious effort 
Two types of Reflex
Simple or Basic Reflex
built-in, unlearnedresponses, e.g., closing of eyes when an objectmoves towards them. Processed and integrated inspinal cord and brainstemb.
Acquired or Conditional Reflex
Results frompractice and learning, e.g., steering car wheel tofollow a curve done automatically but afterconsiderable training effort. Integrated, processedin higher brain centers. 
Relfex Arc
Basic unit of integrating neural activity; anatomicalbasis for the reflex-
Stereotypical response to adequate stimuli
*Stereotypical response: generally involuntary 
May be innate or learned, but there are reflexesthat you NEED to learn (i.e. in driving).-
Simplest circuit involved for posture, walking,eating, laughing as well as control of autonomicfunctions.-
Bell-Magendie Law -
Principle that states that the dorsal(posterior) roots of the spinal cord are sensory and that theventral (anterior) roots are motor.
Reflex Arc
1. Afferent limb
Would consist of a sensory receptor organ.-
Afferent or sensory neuron and nerve-
The sense organ may be part of the first orderneuron (free or encapsulated nerve endings) or aspecialized independent cell.
2. Center
The afferent limb will synapse with one or moreneurons in CNS (either in the spinal cord,brainstem, thalamic nuclei, or the cerebral cortex).
3. Efferent limb
Efferent or motor neuron and nerve and aneffector organ (glands- exocrine and endocrine andmuscles
smooth, skeletal & cardiac)-
Efferent fiber that innervates skeletal muscle -
alpha (α)
motor neurons (which is the FINALCOMMON PATHWAY towards skeletal muscles!).The soma of skeletal muscle neurons are found inthe ventral horn.
*Cardiac and smooth muscle have different fibers(Autonomic nerves
parasympathetic or sympathetic; pre- and post-ganglionic).
Intrafusal fibers
gamma (
) motor efferents 
Reflex Arcs
vary in complexity.
Simple at level of the spinal cord
More complex at the level of brainstem
Most complex in the cerebral cortex 
a change in the external/internal environment.In the body, changes in temperate, pressure, electrolyteconcentration, etc., can act as stimuli 
Adequate Stimulus
a stimulus to which a receptor is mostsensitive or to which it has a low threshold, e.g., eye
sensitive to lights; see „stars‟ when punched.
Threshold Stimulus
the weakest stimulus that a sensoryreceptor can reliably detect and activate primary afferentfibers 
Motor Unit
a single motor neuron and the muscle cells itsynapses on. Each muscle cell belongs to only one motorunit.
Size of motor units
varies and depends on musclefunction:
small muscle that generate very finely controlledmovements
(e. extra-ocular muscles of the eyes, motorunits tend to be small and may contain just a few musclefibers);
large muscles that generate strong forces,
e.g.,gastrocnemius muscle of the leg, tend to have large motorunits with more than several thousand muscle fibers. 
Two Types of motor neurons:
Alpha Motor neurons
innervate the main force-
generating muscle fibers (“extrafusal” fibers).
Gamma Motor neurons
innervate only the fibersof the muscle spind
le (“intrafusal” fibers)
Motor Neuron Pool
the groups of all motor neuronsinnervating a single muscle **Not all reflex activity involves clear-cut reflex arcs:- response may be mediated through neuronsor hormones or both- local response may not be due to hormonesor nerves but by local metabolites 
Classification Systems of Reflexes A. According to NUMBER of SYNAPSES at level of theSPINAL CORD:
only one synapse2.
two or more synapses in between your 1
 order neuron and your final commonpathway.  
skin (cutaneous) and subcutaneous;; resultfrom stimulation of the receptors present in the skin andmucous membrain
they are all
e.g.,withdrawal reflex or scratch reflex.2.
deep tissues (i.e. muscle, bone, joints); reflexesthat result from stimulation of receptors present in musclesor tendons, e.g., stretch reflex3.
i.e. carotid sinus, carotid arch, baroreceptors,chemoreceptors; clinically important reflexes
micturation, defacation and erection.  
i.e. skeletal muscle contraction2.
i.e. tachycardia, bradycardia, increase instroke volume*overlaps such as somato-autonomic (i.e. You get pinchedand then there is an increase in blood pressure aside fromthe withdrawal response.) 
D.  According to SITE of INTEGRATION
(in the CNS)
1. Spinal Cord2. Brainstem3. Thalamus4. Hypothalamus5. Cerebral Cortex (where most learned reflexes aremediated) 
TWO MAIN TYPES OF REFLEX ARCS: 1. Monosynaptic Reflex
(e.g. stretch reflex of musclespindles)
made up of a two-neuron pathway fromreceptor to effector (the afferent or sensory neuron has adirect synaptic connection with the efferent / motor neuron,without the intervention of interneurons), e.g., stretch ormyotactic reflex
which is the most rapid of all reflexes,utilizing 1A afferent which are the largest diameter, fastest/conducting of any afferent nerves 
2. Polysynaptic Reflex / Multi-synaptic
More than one synapse-
Made up of a few or several interneuronsintersposed between the afferent and efferentneurons, e.g.,
withdrawal reflex
i.e. pain reflex, inverse stretch (of golgi tendon),and withdrawal flexor cross extensor reflexes-
Autonomic reflexes
cardiovascular baroreceptorreflex (involving your pre- and post- synapticneurons). May elicit a cardioinhibitory response orcardioaccelatory. **In both mono- and polysynaptic arcs, the activity ismodified by such phenomena as spatial and temporalsummation, subliminal fringe effects, and other laws. *A shows 3 interneurons; B shows 4 interneurons;C shows 4 interneurons and a neuron that sendsfibers back. 
Three Target Reflexes (examples of Spinal Reflexes)
Stretch or Myotatic Reflex
monosynaptic; the simplestreflex; passively stretching a skeletal muscle causes a
reflexive contraction
of that same muscle and relaxation of 
the antagonistic muscle, e.g., “knee jerk or patellar reflex”
a light tap on patellar tendon
pulls  on and brieflystretches the quadriceps femoris muscles (an extensor)
 reflexive contraction of quadriceps and relaxation of semitendinosus muscle (a flexor). This is a key reflex thathelps maintain posture; most rapid of all reflexes, It has twoforms:1.
Phasic stretch Reflex
elicited by primary endingsof muscles spindles2.
Tonic stretch reflex
depends on both primary andsecondary endings The stretch reflex is a
monosynaptic reflex,
mediatedby 1A and 2 sensory fibers emanating from the musclestretch receptor known as
muscle spindles
. Best studied indecerebrate animals, also in spinal animals that haverecovered from spinal shock. Examples are seen in deeptendon reflexes, such as the patellar reflex, Achilles reflex,masseter, triceps, etc. The muscle that is stretchedcontains sensory receptor known as the
muscle spindle.
The muscle spindle elicits the reflex contraction B.
Inverse Stretch (or Inverse Myotatic) Reflex/ Autogenicinhibition
di-, tri- synaptic reflex, extension of stretchreflex, a.k.a.
(but may pertain to the pathologic responsesecondary to spinal cord lesions).- A relaxation in response to a
stroing muscletension (muscle contraction stretches the tendon
). Thereceptor for the inverse stretch reflex is the
golgi tendonorgan.
The fibers from the golgi tendon organs make up the1B group of myelinated, rapidly conducting sensory nervefibers. Stimulation of these 1B fibers leads to theproduction of IPSPs on the motor neurons that supply themuscle from which the fibers arise. The 1B fibers end onthe spinal cord on inhibitory interneurons that in turnterminate directly on the motor neurons (they also makeexcitatory connections with motor neurons supplying antagonists to the muscle.) The inverse reflex is a
reflex. C.
Flexion Reflex
this is a polysynaptic reflex, This involvesmany receptors outside of muscle that contracts. Afferent volleys arising from activation of sensory receptorscause:1.
Excitatory interneurons to activate alpha motorneurons that supply flexro muscles in theipsilateral limb.
Inhibitory interneurons to prevent the activation of alpha motor neurons that supply the antagonisticextensor muscles3.
In addition, commissural interneurons evoke theopposite pattern of activity in the contralateral sideof the spinal cord, This opposite pattern results inextension, the
Crossed Extension Reflex.
Thecontralateral effects helps the subject maintainbalance. The most powerful flexion reflex is the flexor
Withdrawal reflex (a pain reflex):-
activated by nociceptors (nociceptors form theafferent limb of this reflex; includes cutaneous, muscle,joint and visceral nociceptor- polysynaptic, flexor cross extensor and post-synaptic reflex components)-there is considerable divergence of the primaryafferent and interneuronal pathways in the flexion reflexinvolving major joints in a limb, e.g., hip, knee, ankle, in astrong flexor withdrawal reflex.- most powerful flexison 
* Both stretch and inverse stretch reflexes are stimulatedby proprioceptive stimuli.
Muscle spindle
Golgi Tendon Organ
 Muscle Spindle
Wrapped around intrafusal fibers (which areactually part of the muscle spindles which are atype of skeletal muscle fiber)-
the contractile part of skeletal muscle fibers arethe EXTRAFUSAL FIBERS.-
Both the intrafusal and extrafusal fibers runparallel with each other and have sensory endingswrapped around them- Histology: spindle-shaped, about 100 microns indiameter, and up to 10 mm long. It lies freely in thelymph space between regular
extrafusal muscle fibers
,in parallel. Within a muscle spindle, there are two maintypes of intrafusal fibers:1.
Nuclear bag fibers
with several nuclei incentral or equatorial region; generally twonuclear bag fibers per muscle spindlea.
Nuclear bag fiber 1 has low levelof myosin ATPase activity
Nuclear bag fiber 2 has a highlevel of myosin ATPase activity
Nuclear chain fibers
with one row of nuclei; about 4 or more nucear chainfibers per muscle spindle 
Golgi Tendon Organ
Arranged in series with extrafusal fibers in thejunction area of muscle and tendon.-
Consist of a netlike collection of knobby nerveendings among the fascicles of a tendon-
Arranged in series with the extrafusal fibers-
Formed by the terminals of 
group 1B
afferentfibers (also myelinated, rapidly conducting sensroynerve fibers)-
Stimulated by both passive stretch and activecontraction of the muscle; muscle contraction ismore effective than muscle stretch-
Signals force, rather than muscle length or rate of change of muscle length-
This is the sensory receptor for the
inverse stretchreflex (myotatic reflex)
Mammalian Muscle Spindle
Activates the stretch reflex-
Has a connective tissue capsule-
Intrafusal fibers
Nuclear bag fibers
have a highlynucleated central part
Nuclear chain fibers
its nuclei forma chain-
Sensory fibers/endings (histology)
Group Ia
(primary afferent)
Refers to an A-
sensory fiber
Fast conducting 
Come from nuclear bag fiber, somefrom chain
One branc of 1A fibers innervatesnuclear bag fiber 1; nne branchinnervates nuclear bag fiber 2 andnuclear chain fibers
Group 1A fibers belong to the largestdiameter clas of sensory fibers andconduct at 72-120 m/sec. Group 1Afibers wrap around the center of thenuclear bag and nuclear chain fibers
Annulospiral ending 
sensory endingsthat wrap around the intrafusal fibers
Group II
(Secondary afferent)
Fast conducting (not as fast as Ia)
Group II fibers are intermediate in sizeand conduct at 36-72 m/sec.
Located near the ends of the intrafusalfibers, mainly on nuclear chain fibers(occasionally may contact a nuclearbag fiber.
Nuclear chain fiber =  terminate as aflower spray ending 
Muscle Spindle = Connective Tissue capsule + Sensoryendings + Intrafusal fibers

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