10. Reflex and instinctive movements
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  1. The reflex

   They are quick and unconscious movements in response to a stimulus. For example: the cat's pupils dilate when it gets dark. On the contrary, the pupils contract when the cat goes from a dark room to an iluminated room.

   In the same way, these movements of contraction and dilation occur in human eyes.

   The characteristics of the reflex are: son:

   a) Unconscious since the will or intelligence are not involved.

   b) Innate because they have not been learned by practice, but they were born with the person.

   c) Useful because they help to the body's defense.

   The spinal cord consists of nerves that regularize reflexes. The nerve conduction goes from the sensory nerve to the spinal cord and then it is "reflected" in the muscles that execute movements.

  The conditioned reflex movement occurs in response to an stimulus associated with a natural and proper stimulus.

   In natural way, the food in the mouth causes the salivary secretion. If the dogs are fed every time a whistle blows, there comes a time when dogs secrete saliva when they hear the whistle. This reflex is conditioned.

  It also happens when men see a dish well presented: "the mouth will water."

  A. Answer with one of these letters: a, b, c.

  1. Reflexes are

    a. quick movements
    b. slow movements
    c. quiet movements


  2. When it gets dark, the pupil

    a. contracts
    b. shrinks
    c. dilates


 3. When it goes from darkness to light, the pupil

    a. dilates
    b. contracts
    c. expands


 4. The reflexes have not been learned because they are

    a. taught
    b. innate
    c. practised


 5. They are good for the defense as they are

    a. useful
    b. innate
    c. unconscious


 6. The will does not intervene because they are

    a. useful
    b. innate
    c. unconscious


  2. The instinct

   Both animals and humans have instincts. It is a faculty that look for the proper good and the natural purpose of the species. Some characteristics of the instinct are:

   a) Innate: it is not acquired by education and repeated acts. The bird builds its nest without its parents have taught them.

   b) Irresistible: the bird irresistibly tends to build its nest; if it is removed, the bird will rebuild it.

   c) Uniform: all individuals of a species do things in the same way. All birds of the same species make their nests in the same way. All bees make such panels; all ants do the same anthills. However, the instinctive actions of a species are different from other species.

   d) Order: all instinctive movements are ordered and tend to a purpose. The bee leaves its cell, looks for flowers, places over them, sips the nectar, etc. It occurs in order.

   e) Useful: all instinctive movements are useful to the individual (defense instinc) and to the species (reproduction instinct).

   The reflex movement is simple and the instinctive movement is complex. The first one occurs when the stimulus is present and the second one looks for an stimulus. The reflex is always equal and the instinctive can be adapted and modified by the experience.

  B. Answer with one of these letters: a, b, c.

  1. Animals and humans have instincts

    a. false
    b. true
    c. sometimes


  2. It is not acquired by education because it is

    a. innate
    b. uniform
    c. order


 3. All individuals execute movements because they are

    a. innate
    b. order
    c. uniform


 4. If the bird is taken away a nest, it rebuild another one because it is

    a. innate
    b. order
    c. irresistible


 5. All movements have an order, it is

    a. innate
    b. order
    c. useful


 6. It is good for the individual and the species, it is

    a. innate
    b. order
    c. useful


  3. Difference between instinct and intelligence

   There are important and essential differences among instincts and intelligence:

   a) The instinctive act is impulsive and irresistible, while intelligence is discursive.

   b) The instinct does not reflect, it acts blindly, while intelligence thinks and reasons.

   c) The instinctive actions occur in an ordered, rigid and inflexible manner, without noticing the flaws or obstacles that stand in their task. Intelligence is flexible and tries to overcome the obstacles that come in its way.

   d) The instinctive actions are the same in all individuals of the same species. They are uniform. Human instincts are similar in all men, but intelligence is very uneven.

   e) The instinctive actions of animals solve specific and material problems. For example: weaving cloth, making a nest, making a honeycomb, sipping nectar from a flower, etc. However, human intelligence resolve mathematical, physical, philosophical, moral, theoretical, abstract and spiritual problems, etc. The latter difference is the most fundamental.

  C. Answer with one of these letters: a, b, c.

  1. It is impulsive and irresistible

    a. intelligence
    b. reflex
    c. instinct


  2. It is discursive

    a. intelligence
    b. reflex
    c. instinct


 3. It is flexible

    a. reflex
    b. intelligence
    c. instinct


 4. The actions are equal and uniform

    a. intelligence
    b. instinct
    c. man


 5. It solves specific and materials problems

    a. intelligence
    b. reflex
    c. instinct


 6. It solves theoretical and abstract problems

    a. intelligence
    b. reflex
    c. instinct


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®Arturo Ramo García.-Record of intellectual property of Teruel (Spain) No 141, of 29-IX-1999
Plaza Playa de Aro, 3, 1º DO 44002-TERUEL