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By John Nicholas

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This suggests that the opening of the eyes is caused by curiosity, just as their closure is a sign of protection. The following test is more instructive. The child is held vertically under the arm­ pits, with his back against the person supporting him. The test takes place in a dimly lit r o o m ; the adult, holding the child, has his back to the window, and turns slowly round. When he has described an angle of about 90°, the head and eyes of the child begin to turn towards the window, stimulated by the first tangential gleam of daylight.

Stimulation of any part of the body axis brings the same withdrawal reaction. This movement grows rapidly more com­ plicated until it is a general agitation, but the very first reaction is quite appropriate. It is no doubt easier to observe it at a later age. The limb not merely pulls back or aside in response to the stimulation, but the other limb comes to its help, defending and even counter-attacking. The reactions of the sick newborn are even more fascinating and lend themselves more easily to observation, especially in hospital surroundings.

The body schema, if we are ever conscious of one, must do without them, but nevertheless these two elements play a considerable part in our static and kinetic motility, and it is a fair question whether they both play some part in the righting response as well as in the stretching reaction at the beginning of life. While reactions to lateral deviations would come under the influence of the semi-circular canals, reactions of static equilibrium in the upright position would be assured by the otolithic func­ tion.

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Artillery by John Nicholas


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