From very early on intrauterine, the primitive reflex movements literally help develop the brain. The movements lay down the patterns of neural networks and myelinization (development of growth) of pathways that allow the connection of the various areas of the brain that are so important later on for learning, behavior, communication, relationships and emotional well-being.


Primitive (brainstem-level) Reflexes are repetitive, automatic movements that are essential for development of the body’s control, muscle tone, sensory integration and development. As newborns we are pretty vulnerable. Most of our brain hasn’t turned on yet and, even if it had, we don’t have the dataset to recognize what’s safe and what’s not.


To survive the first several months of life, we are endowed with Primitive Reflexes that tell us when to hide or be still, when to fight or run, allow us to recognize “self” versus “not-self”, and help us perform other crucial acts. These primitive reflexes are normally integrated into our developing nervous system within 2 to 9 months after birth as they are replaced by recognizing “safe” from “dangerous” and by postural reflexes which allow us to crawl then walk.


If they are not absorbed or integrated, they get in the way of the postural reflexes and cognitive skills that normally follow. Retained Primitive Reflexes (RPR’s) can cause anxiety, depression, and fearfulness, attention deficits and learning difficulties, sensory integration disorders, extreme shyness, lack of confidence, addiction, constant feelings of feeling overwhelmed, bullying, tantrums, and aggression, inability to recognize social cues, speech delays, bedwetting, fidgeting, thumb sucking, and many of the challenges seen among children and adults with learning, behavioral, and emotional issues.

Retained Primitive Reflexes and Learning Disabilities

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Dr. Stéphane Provencher aka Dr. Awesome at the Gainesville Holistic Health Center
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