The Fear Paralysis Reflex

Balancing to Resolve Fear Paralysis Reflex and its Effects on Learning,

Behavior and Performance

by Kathy Brown, M.Ed

 Background information: Many academic and behavior issues have at their core the incomplete progression of childhood reflexes. These reflexes should each develop in the childʼs system, become fully integrated and useful as a neural pattern, and then “inhibit,” or fall away, so the use of the pattern can be a choice, rather than an inevitable reaction. Early trauma can cause the orderly progression of reflexes to go into a “holding pattern,” resulting in a wide variety of emotional, physical and academic challenges. Fortunately, these reflex challenges resolve quickly and effectively when addressed through specific Brain Gym processes. For more background information, please see “Retained Reflexes in Children and Adults” under “Articles” at

 The Fear Paralysis Reflex is the key to all other reflexes. It is the first reflex to manifest. Indeed, the Fear Paralysis reflex is intended to develop, become integrated, and “inhibit,” or fall away, all in utero, long before birth. If the Fear Paralysis Reflex (FPR) does not follow the intended route of development, the childʼs (or adultʼs) system is left locked in a fear state that permeates all waking and sleep activity. If Fear Paralysis is still active all situations are seen through a filter of fear. A list of behaviors that may manifest due to lack of resolution of Fear Paralysis Reflex is as follows:

• low tolerance to stress

• anxiety seemingly unrelated to reality

• hypersensitivity to touch, sound, specific frequencies of sound, changes in visual field

• dislike of change or surprise/poor adaptability

• fatigue

• elective mutism - the persistent failure to speak in specific situations where speaking is expected, despite the ability to speak otherwise

• holding breath

• fear of social embarrassment

• Insecure

·  Lack of trust in oneself.

·  May become socially isolated and withdrawn.

·  Overly clingy or may be unable to accept or demonstrate affection easily

·  Fear of school • Compulsive traits/OCD

·  Negativism, defeatist attitude

·  Wonʼt try new activities, especially where comparison occurs or excellence is expected

·  Depression

·  Temper tantrums

·  Controlling or oppositional behavior, especially at home

·  Immediate motor paralysis under stress - canʼt think and move at the same time

·  Reduced muscle tone

·  Eating disorders

·  Craves attention

·  Aggressive behavior borne out of frustration and confusion

·  Poor balance

Children or adults with FPR still “on” in their system will typically manifest a cluster of these behaviors– the more fully the reflex manifests, the more pronounced the behaviors will be, and the more severe the implications in their life. Like all reflex issues, Fear Paralysis Reflex responds quickly and easily to the Brain Gym balance process.

Read the full article. 



Seeing Takes More Than Our Eyes

Visual image


Carla Hannaford, Ph.D,

Smart Moves, Why Learning is Not All In your Head

p. 45-46


Touch and proprioception are important organizers of the visual aspects of learning.  Vision is a very complex phenomenon, with only a small percentage (less than 10%) of the process occurring in the eyes.  The other more than 90% of vision takes place in the brain from association with touch and proprioception.  As babies touch their environment, they learn dimension, texture, line and even color.  A complete visual picture emerges at about eight months after birth.  Touch is very important to vision.  Listen closely to a child who is seeing something new. The child immediately reaches out to touch the object while saying, “Let me see that!”  Touch is the major contributor to full understanding in vision.


Images coming in through the eyes are turned upside down and backwards as they enter the optic nerve and cross the optic chiasma.  They are then funneled through the thalamus to the occipital lobe where primary vision is processed.  For full vision to occur, information from all the cerebral lobes must be accessed.  Information from the sensory and motor cortices associates the image with learned sensory and movement functioning.  Gravitational and vibrational information from the temporal lobes relates the image to where we are in space.  And, as noted earlier, approximately 20% of the messages from the eyes, retina and extraocular muscles, go to areas of the brain concerned with balance mechanisms.  All the information together allows us to right the image and bring it into full context in the visual association areas.


An experiment in which scientists fitted themselves with special pairs o glasses shows how our vision is educated to comprehend the world.  These glasses had mirrors that turned the view of the world upside down and back to front.  At first, the disoriented experimenters could barely move without bumping into something, but after a few days they adjusted and the reversed world came to look “right way up.”  Touch and the proprioceptive sense that guides vision had adjusted the new visual input to this new physical orientation.  The fully intact vestibular system “knew” that the world had not gone topsy-turvy.  This, together with touch and proprioception, provided feedback, which allowed their eyes to adjust.  The scientists could walk around without problems and saw the world just fine—until they took the glasses off at the end of the experiment.  Then they had to go through a relearning process all over again, with several days of hitting and falling over things.  This experiment demonstrates graphically that they brain has to assemble our visual world from learned pieces through our other senses, especially touch and proprioception.

If Only 4% of Vision Comes Through the Eyes, What is the Other 96% ?

                                         Visioncircles by Gail E. Dennison

                                        Visioncircles by Gail E. Dennison


Adapted from an article by Gail E. Dennison and Paul E. Dennison, Ph.D., the developers of Visioncircles and Brain Gym of Educational Kinesiology (Edu-K).


There are several models of perception or intelligence, which are similar to Edu-K’s Visioncircles model.  Each of these describes experience in terms of areas in which we function or interact with others.  One may emphasize vision and other senses (Skeffington’s model), another the focusing of attention (Stanislavski’s model), and still another, aspects of intelligence (Gardner’s model). 

The Edu-K model

The EduK-model begins with attention to noticing or self-observation.  The sequencing of the circles, which comprise the Visioncircles model, is designed to develop visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and tactile skills while releasing habits  of compensation developed around the misuse of these skills.  The first four circles emphasize the development of the individual toward autonomy, emphasizing opportunities for self-nurturance; the second four circles emphasize development toward healthy social interaction.  Edu-K’s cooperative group experiences form a model as well for the integrated use of the senses, resulting in the restored ability of the eyes, ears, and body to work together without overreliance on any one modality at the expense of the others.

This Edu-K model also emphasizes a variety of skills necessary for healthy vision, including visual-motor tasks, skills of centralization, peripheral vision, and depth perception.  When children learn under conditions in which they are able to move naturally, development takes place from the center of the body (core, postural muscles) to the periphery (arms and legs), and balance mechanisms develop in concert with visual skills.  The Visioncircles of Edu-K follows this model.

Here is a brief summary of other well-known perceptual/cognitive models:

A Visual/Developmental Model

In the 1960s, optometrist A.M. Skeffington first integrated the hypothetical models of the major contributors in the field of developmental vision.  Skeffington’s own model for behavioral optometry described the development of visual skills in terms of four interlocking circles, with the central core representing what he called the emergent or the actualized self.

The first of these four circles is labeled antigravity and corresponds to the Edu-K concept of bilateral development.  Skeffington’s second circle is called centering and corresponds to the Edu-K concept of centering, emphasizing interpretations of spatial information through kinesthesia.  He called the third circle identification.  In the Visioncircle model of Edu-K, identification skills are developed through fine-motor skills and noticing processes.  Skeffington’s fourth circle, audition, emphasizes the development of language.  In Visioncircles, these audition processes are explored through the first, third, and seventh circles (self-discovery, sound, and communication in all its aspects, comment by scb). 

An Educational Model

A similar model is found in Dr. Howard Gardner’s seven dimensions of intelligence.  Dr. Gardner’s criterion for an intelligence is that it fins its expression in a unique symbolic language.  Gardner’s model is taught by the psychologist Dr. Thomas Armstrong and other advocates of multidimensional approaches to learning. 

The following are Gardner’s seven dimensions of intelligence.  The interpretations given with each term are Gail Dennison’s.

       Linguistic:  accessing Wernicke’s area of speech and symbolized by written language and syntax.

       Musical:  accessing the temporal lobes and right brain and symbolized by musical notations.

       Bodily kinesthetic:  accessing the basal ganglia, motor cortex, cerebellum, and inner ear (affecting equilibrium), and symbolized by the conceptual abstraction of movement for the orchestration of movement sequences.

       Spatial (or visuo-spatial):  accessing the midbrain and occiput and using the symbols of form, color, and metaphor.

       Logical/mathematical:  accessing midbrain, right hemisphere, and occiput for conceptual and analogic symbols; left hemisphere for number symbols and quantitative intelligence. 

       Intrapersonal:  accessing the limbic brain and neocortex via the thalamus and symbolized by covert language and metaphor. 

       Interpersonal:  accessing the frontal and prefontal lobes and symbolized by verbal   language, facial expression, and gestures.

A correlation exists between the seven dimensions described here and seven of the Visioncircles (the eighth circle being one that synthesizes and accesses the others).  Where the Visioncircles focus on the perceptual skills necessary for the development of these intelligences, Gardner focuses more on their outcomes. 

An Expressive Arts Model

A third model of awareness based on the idea of circles was developed by the Russian actor Constantine Stanislavski, and was used as a method to teach actors about stage presence.  The method, greatly simplified, teaches the participant to focus all of his or her attention into a circle (possibly symbolized by a spotlight).  The spotlight of attention may be small, encompassing only the actor’s body (as in the second circle of Visioncircles); larger, to include a second person (circle seven of Visioncircles); larger still, to include the audience (circles three, four, and eight of Visioncircles); concentrated internally, as in a soliloquy (circles one and six of Visioncircles); or focused mainly on head and hands (circle five of Visioncircles).  The actor learns to calibrate his or her awareness and energy to the size of each circle. 


     1.     Skeffington, A.M. Practical Applied Optometry, California: Optometric Extension Program, 1991.

      2.     Gardner, Howard, Frames of Mind, New York: Basic Books, Inc., 1985

      3.     Armstrong, Thomas, In Their Own Way: Discovering and Encouraging Your Child’s Personal      Learning Style, California: Jeremy Tarcher, Inc., 1987.

      4.     Stanislavski, Constantine, An Actor Prepares, New York: Theatre Arts Books, 1948.


Grandma's Experiences Leave a Mark on Your Genes

By Dan Hurley -- Discover Magazine Tuesday June 11, 2013

[This article originally appeared in print as "Trait vs. Fate"]

 Alison Mackey/Discover Magazine June 2013

Alison Mackey/Discover Magazine June 2013

Your ancestors' lousy childhoods or excellent adventures might change your personality, bequeathing anxiety or resilience by altering the epigenetic expressions of genes in the brain.

Darwin and Freud walk into a bar. Two alcoholic mice — a mother and her son — sit on two bar stools, lapping gin from two thimbles.

The mother mouse looks up and says, “Hey, geniuses, tell me how my son got into this sorry state.”

“Bad inheritance,” says Darwin.

“Bad mothering,” says Freud.

For over a hundred years, those two views — nature or nurture, biology or psychology — offered opposing explanations for how behaviors develop and persist, not only within a single individual but across generations.

And then, in 1992, two young scientists following in Freud’s and Darwin’s footsteps actually did walk into a bar. And by the time they walked out, a few beers later, they had begun to forge a revolutionary new synthesis of how life experiences could directly affect your genes — and not only your own life experiences, but those of your mother’s, grandmother’s and beyond.  

The bar was in Madrid, where the Cajal Institute, Spain’s oldest academic center for the study of neurobiology, was holding an international meeting. Moshe Szyf, a molecular biologist and geneticist at McGill University in Montreal, had never studied psychology or neurology, but he had been talked into attending by a colleague who thought his work might have some application. Likewise, Michael Meaney, a McGill neurobiologist, had been talked into attending by the same colleague, who thought Meaney’s research into animal models of maternal neglect might benefit from Szyf’s perspective.

 Michael Meaney, neurobiologist                                                                                          ---Owen Egan/McGill University

Michael Meaney, neurobiologist                                                                                          ---Owen Egan/McGill University

“I can still visualize the place — it was a corner bar that specialized in pizza,” Meaney says. “Moshe, being kosher, was interested in kosher calories. Beer is kosher. Moshe can drink beer anywhere. And I’m Irish. So it was perfect.”

The two engaged in animated conversation about a hot new line of research in genetics. Since the 1970s, researchers had known that the tightly wound spools of DNA inside each cell’s nucleus require something extra to tell them exactly which genes to transcribe, whether for a heart cell, a liver cell or a brain cell. 

To read the rest of the article click here.




Precision Grip vs. Power Grip

 Precision grip.

Precision grip.

 Power grip.

Power grip.

Fingers link to intellectual and emotion centers of the brain. They are literally fiber-linked to an array of sensory, motor, and association areas in the forebrain, midbrain, and cerebellum. These brain areas lay the groundwork for nonverbal learning, manual sign language, and computer keyboard fluency.

The precision-grip, the precise opposition of the tactile pads, involves extensive activations in BOTH hemispheres. It suggests that dexterous brain modules have shifted into gear for activities such as problem solving, planning, tool usage, and thoughtful strategies.

The power grip on the other hand (holding an object between the sides if the fingers and thumb and using the palm of the hand), is associated predominately with left-sided activity in the brain, engaging far fewer brain areas.

The precision grip reflects an incredibly complex neural wiring plan, which has made our fingers intellectual "smart parts" of the highest order. We are able to thread a needle because of intricate sequences of finger movements controlled by the prefrontal neocortex working in tandem with two areas of the parietal neocortex.

The areas that are engaged as we use the precision grip are areas that process spatial information, speech, nonverbal hand and finger movements, locating objects in space, decoding complex gestures, and recognizing objects placed in our hands by touch alone.

The precise digital opposition of the precision grip reflects precise mental calculation and technical thought, such as financial, scientific, and other complex types of information or ideas.

Our most thoughtful, conceptual, and "high-level" hand gestures frequently employ the muscles and neural circuits of the precision grip. A case in point is the steeple gesture (finger tips together forming a little “roof top”), which is used when one is immersed in deep thought.