Can we override our reflexes?


Yes, it is possible to override our reflexes using the brain's top-down processing. explains that the prefrontal cortex, which handles top-down processing, allows us to suppress or control reflexes. For example, you might typically withdraw your foot if you step on a tack, but you could consciously decide to keep your foot on the tack despite the immediate impulse to pull away 1.

Furthermore, mentions that our ability to override reflexes involves high-level neural circuits that can override lower-level, hardwired responses. This can be crucial in situations where immediate reflexive actions might be inappropriate or dangerous, like holding a hot teacup without dropping it in a socially delicate situation 2.

Overall, this ability to override reflexive actions is a testament to the brain's complex interplay between automatic and deliberate actions, mediated by neural circuits designed for survival and appropriate behavior adjustment 3 2.

Overriding Fear Reflexes

Andrew explains how our prefrontal cortex and top-down processing can override reflexes, including the threat reflex. By attaching a new narrative to the experience of fear, we can negotiate whether to persist, pause, or retreat.

Huberman Lab

Erasing Fears & Traumas Based on the Modern Neuroscience of Fear | Huberman Lab Podcast #49