Developmental Psychobiology: The Significance of Infancy

By Lewis P. Lipsitt | Go to book overview

4 From Reflexive to Instrumental Behavior

Philip R. Zelazo

Tufts University School of Medicine

Professionals responsible for advising parents about childcare have long known that the persistence of certain reflexive behaviors in infants is often evidence of neurological damage. Normally many of the infant's integrative reflexes diminish or disappear within the first 10 or 12 months of life. The walking reflex diminishes to near zero by 8 weeks ( Zelazo, Zelazo, & Kolb, 1972) and the Moro reflex terminates by about 6 months ( McGraw, 1943). The occurrence of a full-fledged Moro reflex in an 10- month-old child, arms extended and brought toward the midline with grasping of the hands, to the sudden removal of support, may therefore raise concern about the infant's neurological status. This concern rests on a firm foundation of clinical experience; in some cases of neurological insult, the so-called integrative reflexes, such as the Moro reflex, persist or reappear.

Generalizations are occasionally made to less obvious cases, however, implying that the persistence or reoccurrence of certain reflexes beyond prescribed ages is synonymous with abnormal development. One obvious implication, voiced even today, is that we should not tamper with any of the infant's reflexes. Some suggest that the presence of reflexively based responses beyond certain ages, such as walking or standing in the 2-month- old infant, is cause for concern (e.g., Gotts, 1972). This is a reasonable view if one regards the infant as a defenseless organism. There is a sense

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Developmental Psychobiology: The Significance of Infancy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Contributors ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface ix
  • 1: Heart Rate: A Sensitive Tool for the Study of Emotional Development in the Infant 1
  • Acknowledgments 26
  • References 26
  • Comments on "Heart Rate: A Sensitive Tool for the Study of Emotional Development in the Infant" 32
  • References 34
  • 2: Infancy, Biology, and Culture 35
  • References 53
  • Comments on "Infancy, Biology, and Culture" 55
  • References 57
  • 3: Genetic Determinants of Infant Development: An Overstated Case 59
  • References 77
  • Comments on "Genetic Determinants of Infant Development: An Overstated Case" 80
  • References 85
  • 4: From Reflexive to Instrumental Behavior 87
  • Acknowledgments 103
  • References 103
  • Comments on "From Reflexive to Instrumental Behavior" 105
  • References 106
  • A Reply to Freedman 107
  • References 108
  • 5: Developmental Psychobiology Comes of Age: A Discussion 109
  • References 126
  • 6: Three Themes in Develomental Psychobiology 129
  • References 137
  • Author Index 139
  • Topical Index 143
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