Q:

Why is a reflex arc important?

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Quick Answer

The BBC describes a reflex arc as the nerve pathway through which neural impulses travel to cause a quick autonomic response known as a reflex. Reflexes are not something people think about, rather, they are impulsive reactions to stimuli.

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Why is a reflex arc important?
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An example illustrated by class notes from Rutgers University explains that when a person touches a flame or hot surface with his hand, his immediate reaction is to remove his hand from the heat to prevent getting burned. This decision, or reflex, is not a conscious one. In general, there are five parts of a reflex: receptor, the sense organ, such as skin muscle or another organ; sensory neuron, which is in charge of carrying the neural message to the central nervous system; interneuron, which carries the message within the central nervous system; motor neuron, which carries the impulse away from the central nervous system; and effector, the structure that reacts and exhibits a response.

According to Rutgers University, the reflex response can be more involved. For example, if a person steps on a sharp object, the reflex is to lift his foot off the object. There is also the stabilization of the other leg as he lifts his foot off the ground. This means this type of reflex response involves some consciousness.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What is an example of a reflex action?

    A:

    A reflex action occurs when the body responds to a stimulus without the involvement of the brain. Batting of eyelids and rapid withdrawal of hands from a hot surface are examples of reflex actions. The contraction of the pupils of the eyes when exposed to bright light is a perfect example of a reflex action.

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  • Q:

    How does reflex arc work?

    A:

    In a reflex arc, a stimulus felt by the skin, muscles or organs transmits to the central nervous system (usually the spinal cord). The central nervous system relays the signal to initiate an action from the organism in response to the stimulus.

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  • Q:

    What happens during the reflex arc?

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    During the reflex arc, sensory neurons carry signals from receptors to interneurons in the spinal cord, which send signals to activate muscles via motor neurons without first signalling the brain. This sequence provides much quicker responses to certain stimuli and is totally involuntary.

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  • Q:

    How do visceral reflex arcs differ from somatic reflex arcs?

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    Visceral reflex arcs and somatic reflex arcs differ in the end point of the arc: Visceral reflex arcs end at involuntary muscles and glands, and somatic reflex arcs end at voluntary skeletal muscles. Both reflex arcs go from sensory nerves to their endpoints through the central nervous system.

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