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Progress in Pediatrics
January 1932


Author Affiliations

From the Department of Pediatrics, University of Minnesota, with the help of a grant from the Graduate School of the University of Minnesota.

Am J Dis Child. 1932;43(1):163-186. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1932.01950010170017

An intellectual battle has been waged for almost three hundred years about the psychophysiologic phenomenon known as the "reflex." The chief contestants have been and still are the physiologists and the psychologists, with the anthropologists, the biologists and the physicians allying themselves first with one side and then with the other. It seems that the psychologists were the first to capture the term "reflex"—but of late the physiologists have successfully invaded their territory.

It was Descartes, the great philosopher, who first speculated about reflex activity in the first part of the seventeenth century. He, wrote:

An external or internal stimulus falls on some one or other nervous receptor and gives rise to a nervous impulse; this nervous impulse is transmitted along nerve fibres to the central nervous system and here on account of existing nervous connections it gives rise to a fresh impulse which passes along outgoing nerve fibres to

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