Reflexes If you touch something that is very hot, your hand moves away quickly before you even feel the pain. You don’t have to think about it because the response is a reflex that does not involve the brain. A reflex is a rapid, unlearned, involuntary (automatic) response to a stimulus (change in the environment). Reflexes are responses that protect the body from potentially harmful events that require immediate action. They involve relatively few neurons (nerve cells) so that they can occur rapidly. There are a wide variety of reflexes that we experience every day such as sneezing, coughing, and blinking. We also automatically duck when an object is thrown at us, and our pupils automatically change size in response to light. These reflexes have evolved because they protect the body from potentially harmful events. Most reflexes protect people from injury or deal with things that require immediate action. Reflex actions do not involve the higher brain regions involved in conscious sensation, decision-making, and voluntary movement. Involving higher brain regions would take too long, potentially exposing the body to risks. Using the reflex pathway as a shortcut allows reflexes to occur very rapidly.