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Orienting reflex

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also called orienting reflex, is the innate reflex that causes an organism to respond immediately to a change in its environment. The phenomenon was first described by Russian physiologist Ivan Sechenov in his 1863 book Reflexes of the Brain, and the term was coined by Ivan Pavlov, who also referred to it as the "What is it?" reflex. The orienting response is a reaction to novelty. Such reflexes include:

Description

When people see a bright flash or light or hear a sudden loud noise, they pay attention to it even before they identify it. This orienting reflex seems to be present from birth. It is useful in helping people react quickly to events that call for immediate action.

This reflex can be controlled by the cerebral cortex, but more typically it is controlled by subcortical brain regions.

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