Her future is unlimited. 

We have seen changes in him that we were told were not possible. 

We are so grateful for Dr. Masguotva and her Method of NeuroReflex Integration.

Dr. Svetlana Masgutova has transformed the life of our family.

Profound. 

Incredible. 

Life-changing. 

These are just some of the testimonies and words that our families have used to describe the changes seen in our loved ones impacted by neurodevelopmental challenges, stress and/or trauma after work with Dr. Masgutova’s Method of NeuroReflex Integration.   

These results are attributed to the evidence-based and research-driven set of NeuroReflex Integration programs and techniques. Dr. Svetlana Masgutova has been impacting the lives of neurodiverse children and adults since 1989 in 40-plus countries all over the world. The life-changing results seen in the children and adults who have experienced NeuroReflex Integration reverberate hope, joy, and resilience throughout our families, our communities, and our world. 

 

The application of NeuroReflex Integration has touched individuals with many different circumstances, including individuals who are:

  • Neurologically and neurodevelopmentally challenged

  • Afflicted with physical and neurological trauma and traumatic stress

  • Impaired by genetic disorders

  • Neurotypical seeking optimal development and success

  • Gifted and talented

  • High achievers 

  • Athletes

  • Trade workers, business professionals of all disciplines, executive leaders

  • Aging adults

 

What is NeuroReflex Integration, and what makes it so effective at helping children and adults experience positive results in neurodevelopment and neuromodulation?

Dr Masgutova’s  extensive techniques and exercises have been developed through years of her theoretical understanding and practical application of primary reflex integration and the effect on neurodevelopment. 

The foundation of her work is rooted in and is an extension of the discoveries of a wide variety of pioneering psychologists and neurophysiologists, many of whom lived and worked in Russia or other European countries during the 19th and 20th centuries, including Ivan Sechenov (1829-1905), Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936), Charles Sherrington (1857-1952), Nikolai Bernstein  (1896-1966), Jean Piaget (1896-1980), and Alexander Luria (1902-1977) - as shown below. 

NeuroReflex Integration is oriented toward the concept of the reflex as a unit of the nervous system, a genetic motor code that not only serves as protective responses to stress and danger but also as the neuro-physiological foundation to higher level, cortical-driven physical, emotional, and cognitive development.

Dr. Masgutova’s NeuroReflex Integration concepts and programs support the possibilities of restoring “stressed” or “lost” functions of the nervous system. This integration method applies neuromodulation techniques and exercises that support neurophysiological maturation and integration of primary reflex patterns. 

These non-invasive tools aim to improve the rerouting and paving of nerve pathways to facilitate their normal neurophysiological functioning and natural excitation-inhibition processes of the nervous system, which are linked to stress resilience, neural connectivity, and brain plasticity.

Sechenov and Pavlov outlined the basic understanding of a reflex as a physical response directed by the brain. Sir Charles Sherrington (1857-1952), an English neurophysiologist, expanded upon their assertions by providing a simple physiological explanation for how the body’s reflexive activity works.

  • Sensory system receptors in the body’s different systems (tactile, auditory, visual, olfactory, gustatory, vestibular, proprioceptive) detect a change in the environment because of something that is felt, heard, seen, smelled, tasted or experienced in movement, or from sensations from joints, muscles, and connective tissues. 

  • A sensory neuron delivers the sensory message (affectors) through ascending neural pathways that connect to the central nervous system (spinal cord and brain). These sensory neurons are specialized cells that interpret stimuli and transmit chemical and electrical signals in the brain, and they are the basic building blocks of the central nervous system. Interneurons serve as the central nervous system’s ambassadors between sensory and motor neurons. 

  • The central nervous system interprets the sensory information and determines the necessary response. This system acts as the coordinator and decision-maker for all conscious activity and manages or oversees all unconscious activity. 

  • A motor neuron carries the response messages to the skeletal muscles, non-skeletal muscles, glands, organs or vascular pathways – whichever is responsible for generating the motor response.

  • A motor response is generated.

This entire network of neuron transportation is what Pavlov and Sechenov referred to as a “reflex arc,” a hub of activity, permitting nerve pulses to transmit the data from the stimulus to produce a reflex. A reflex is the automatic motor response to a particular stimulus, whether internal (hormonal activity, sweat, heart racing, blood circulation) or external (something a person hears, smells, touches, feels, etc.) and a genetic code and unit for both primary and conscious sensory-motor system development.

Each human being is born with a sophisticated system of natural sensory-motor responses — reactions, reflexes and sensorimotor coordination systems — that collectively are referred to as the primary-sensory-motor system. The responses and reflexes belonging to the primary-sensory-motor system each have their own structures that are expressed by individuals as genetic sensory-motor “programs” of human development.

Reflexes emerge in utero and are “active,” or present, for a period, before they develop, mature, and integrate within the body-brain system to serve as subordinate roles to more complex sensory-motor schemes.*

The duration of this entire process depends on the genetically encoded automatic functioning of other body systems, including the heart and circulation, digestion, breathing/ respiratory, and lymphatic systems. The nervous system’s unit — a reflex — is a generator and coordinator for all these systems. Reflexes start their active work between the first or second trimester of pregnancy and continue through the child’s first two to three years of life. 

 

The most important natural task of a reflex is to “train” the nervous system and body for  protection and survival, which enables an infant to protect himself or herself when needed (such as protection during a fall). This process leads to a well-functioning protective mechanism, which ultimately makes a child or adult feel safe and assured. 

Integrated primary sensory-motor reflexes  have a sense of when they need to be reactive to keep the body and brain safe — in moments of stress or danger, when a person is most vulnerable to losing their conscious learning and experience and must rely on their automatic programming for protection. Otherwise, matured and integrated primary sensory-motor reflexes serve the cortical-level functions /conscious mind that controls all activities of life, from reading and writing, to memorizing, thinking critically, and movement.

The emergence, development, maturity, and integration of a reflex involves a multi-step journey, a metamorphosis through different phases, with each phase serving a specific purpose. 

Once the reflex emerges, the basic pattern progresses through the sensory-motor circuit (sensory stimulus -->  brain processing --> motor response). This process creates the nerve network that produces an appropriate response to a specific stimulus. 

*The infant movement do not disappear as development progresses.  The centers that direct them continue to work in conjunction with higher nervous formations and enter into their compositions as subordinate units and yield a part of their functions upwards to younger and newer centers. Vygotsky, L.S. 1898-1934. The Collected Works of L.S. Vygotsky. Vol. 5. Child Psychology. Ed: R.W. Rieber. Springer Science+Media. P. 220.

Development through reflex circuit activation is essential for neurodevelopment, as the biomechanical aspect of a reflex, and its main function of protection, becomes coordinated.

Once matured, reflexes remain available for defensive automatic reaction (brainstem response), and also for a positive protection and survival on a more conscious choice level (cortex). They also continue on a neurophysiological level to support further development of specialized functions of higher brain structures in childhood and beyond. 

Unconditioned primary reflexes begin their development early – in utero. After birth, they organize the training of "automatic programs" such as in the condition of the air and gravity stress (terrestrial attraction), all of which impact the development of an infant’s brain stem and entire brain – on an anatomical and functional level. Those primary automatic motor activities myelinate nerve networks, so that nerve impulses can speed through their reflex arcs as nature intended. 

The work of NeuroReflex Integration is based on viewing the reflex as a unit of the nervous system that presents an automatic physical response to a sensory stimulus, with special focus on its unconditioned pattern as the first level of genetically given neurodevelopment.

 Conditioned reflexes support the next level of sensory-motor patterns, intentional and goal-oriented, that are controlled by functions of the left and right brain hemispheres. In other words, they develop specialized functions allowing an individual to coordinate learned movements, rationalize, reason, think critically, organize, socialize, or otherwise, to perform higher-level skills and actions.

Implications of Improperly Developed or Immature Reflex Patterns

Four basic conditions affect the function of reflexes: congenital disorders; non-congenital disease; trauma; and prolonged, intermittent, or chronic stress. If there are poorly integrated parts of a reflex because of a dysfunction, then errors in the reflex circuit are likely. 

When a reflex is dysfunctional, the basic motor pattern remains in a state of negative survival and sensory-motor disintegration, which means the brain is processing information incorrectly. The resulting motor reaction or action does not match the pattern.

Such responses produce poor motor functioning, problematic behaviors and emotions, and cognitive challenges. These aspects deprive the higher-level cortex of the brain to do its job in regulating speech, reasoning, and memory. Compensations may develop, but they are not true reflex patterns, and are unreliable during periods of stress.

A reflex serves its automatic reflexive role when the excitatory and inhibitory processes in the brain are regulated by the neurophysiological process. If the reflex pattern does not develop sufficiently, or there is not proper regulation between the excitatory (glutamate) and inhibitory (GABA) substances, then the reflex pattern is “retained” when it should not be. The neurologically immature reflex continues to respond automatically to its particular sensory stimulus, expending the child’s exertions on protection or survival. 

If a child or adult brain is constantly firing for protection and survival, then not only is the nervous system unable to strengthen and develop properly, but the brain cannot do its job of nourishing the growth of the cortex. The result could lead to insecurity, perpetuating the protection responses of fight, flight or freeze. Muscle tension, impulsiveness, nervousness, and a tendency toward aggressiveness and/or isolation could persist. 

Stress in infancy also impacts the neurophysiology of future development. Stress is especially impactful because of the high levels of stress hormones, particularly cortisol, surging from an overworked hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) stress-axis. High levels of stress hormones can damage the formation of the neurotransmitter systems, and ultimately brain development, leading to possible neurodevelopmental delays and deficiencies.

In utero, after birth, and the early childhood years are formative years for the maturation of these basic sensory-motor reflexes and the progressions of an infant's movements and milestones.

Milestone achievements are contingent upon the proper development of the extrapyramidal nervous system, which is responsible for involuntary movements and automatic responses and processes.

The extrapyramidal system is composed of several nervous system centers and their associated tracts whose primary function is to coordinate and process motor commands performed at the subconscious level, or, as some neuroscientists describe as involuntary motor responses. Extrapyramidal tracts target neurons in the spinal cord, brain stem, and interbrain that are involved with reflexes, locomotion, complex movements, and postural control. 

These tracts are modulated by various parts of the central nervous system, including the basal ganglia (for regulation of excitation and inhibition), the cerebellum (for voluntary movements), the hippocampus (for memorizing), limbic brain (for emotional and motivational support), hypothalamus and amygdala (for release of fear from failure and learning stress) and pituitary gland (for support of hormones that promote homeostasis). 

Basically, the extrapyramidal nervous system is responsible for all automaticity in the brain-body system, regulating all physiological functions such as circulation, breathing, reflexes, and a person’s instincts. Supporting the development of the extrapyramidal nervous system promotes the overall maturation of the nervous system. A healthy extrapyramidal nerve system supports the proper functioning of the pyramidal system, which comprises the upper motor neurons extending from the cortex to the brainstem or spinal cord that make up the two major descending pathways of voluntary movement. This system governs the development of conscious postural control, and is responsible for motor coordination, focus, memorization, language development, and holistic knowledge.

Dr. Masgutova approaches a reflex as a crucial phenomenon of the central nervous system, which fulfills the body’s survival task regardless of the age of the person or the development level of executive cortical functions.

Primary reflexes incorporate into higher-level brain functions as they mature, and continue to serve as subordinated functions to more complex sensory-motor schemes. Primary reflexes serve to fulfill the functions of the regulation of excitation and inhibition as two-sided process of the central nervous system. 

Dr. Masgutova’s Method of NeuroReflex Integration

Dr. Masgutova’s Method of NeuroReflex Integration  research and practical work is devoted to the innate, or primary reflexes (termed by L. Vygotsky), and the associated primary movements and sensory-motor patterns. The programs aim to support reflex integration among newborns, children, and adults by supporting the brain development, its neuroplasticity, the development of stress resilience, and the strengthening of nervous and immune systems. NeuroReflex Integration techniques and exercises facilitate the exchange of negative sensory-motor anchors with positive associations, reducing reactive responses caused by hyperactive reflex patterns and releasing the body’s negative protection.

NeuroReflex Integration programs and exercises specifically are oriented toward supporting the function of the extrapyramidal system and those unconditioned reflex patterns that nature has shepherded in early development. 

Dr. Masgutova’s Method’s of manual, non-invasive NeuroReflex integration techniques and exercises aims to neuromodulate the impaired reflex circuit and its functions within its components (sensory, brain processing and motor, and also feedback) to support its development, maturity, and integration.

Parents and professionals may learn more about the theory and application of NeuroReflex Integration through courses offered through The Masgutova Graduate School of NeuroDevelopmental Sciences.

 

The Masgutova Foundation supports  NeuroReflex Integration strategies that enhance functions and mechanisms of nervous system development, immunity, healthy functioning, stress resilience, and overall well-being of clients through Scholarships, Outreach Programs, Advocation for increased worldwide NeuroReflex Integration awareness, Research, Education, and Partnerships with supporting organizations and individuals.   

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