How Learning is Affected by Retained Primitive Reflexes

March 2, 2015 Updated: April 23, 2016

Primitive reflexes, known as infantile reflexes, are muscle reactions starting from birth that occur automatically in response to various stimulations. Certain reflexes disappear as an infant develops because they are no longer needed. When a child continues to have these reflexes after development, it means that there is nervous system damage, brain damage or immaturity. The retained primitive reflexes are now being linked to affecting learning in children and adults. Here is a look at what these retained primitive reflexes do, how they affect a person and what should be done to treat it.

Why Do Retained Primitive Reflexes Occur?
According to Sydney chiropractor NeuroBalance Chiropractic, the reason that primitive reflexes remain is that sometimes brain development is hindered due to birth trauma or other normal developmental restrictions. The nervous system will react inappropriately and a child can’t develop normally to their full potential.

What Types of Reflexes are Affected and What is the Result?

A few of the primitive reflexes that are sometimes retained include:

  • Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex

  • Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex

  • Tonic Neck Reflex

  • Spinal Galant Reflex

  • Moro Reflex

  • Palmer Reflex

Spinal Galant Reflex will cause bed-wetting and your child may struggle to want to sit still. Moro Reflex makes for an over-reactive and oversensitive child which is commonly found in people with ADHD. The various neck reflexes affect handwriting, awareness, concentration, posture, coordination and more.

Learning begins before birth and primitive reflexes shape our earliest form of self-knowledge. They are the reflexes that give us an understanding of our relation to space, time, fear, pleasure and movement. Babies use these reflexes for survival in the first few weeks of life and this is the time when the lower brain structures connect with the higher level of the brain and understanding takes place. If a child has retained primitive reflexes, this leads to faulty brain connections resulting in impaired learning, behavioral outbursts and anxiety issues.

Adults are less likely to have learning and behavioral disabilities because it’s not hard to correct the issue from a young age. If nothing is done to correct the problem, the issue directly interferes with social, academic and motor learning abilities. Each reflex is associated with a different function including sensory processing, auditory, smell, etc. so if a person doesn’t retrain their reflexes, Sensory Processing Disorder can occur, scoliosis, asthma, immune system disorders, poor verbal and written expression which will affect education and job performance and panic attacks can occur.

Therapy for Retained Primitive Reflexes

Most patients must do exercises daily which pinpoint selected nerve bundles and random movements that will deviate from the selected stimulation. This very specific exercise regime needs to be given by a chiropractor that can pinpoint the correct nerve bundles to stimulate.

Once it’s discovered that one is suffering from retained primitive reflexes, it’s highly important to seek treatment right away. It’s possible to retrain the reflexes and to live life to ones fullest potential.