Your Neurological Finger Tapping Reflex: The Hoffman Sign

Your neurological finger tapping reflex, also known as the Hoffman sign, is used to identify damage to the central nervous system and monitor recovery from brain injury. This reflex is triggered by stimulated neurons triggering a cascade of voluntary skeletal muscle contractions known as evoked muscle accidents (EMCA).

Pressure from two large and sensitive semicircular canals located on either side of the brain stem connects to these sensors, squeezing adrenaline and serotonin brakes on the central nervous system. When these brakes are slammed back on, muscles send a cascade of electrical impulses to the brain to trigger its protective reflex. This stress and its reflex are especially important if there is trauma, as it is a great way to alert the brain to the injury and mimic the natural recovery process.

Although EMCAs are triggered by a variety of stimuli, the most common injury trigger is the loss of consciousness that commonly occurs in a traumatic brain injury. The EMCAs are triggered not only by physical stimuli but also by the loss of consciousness caused by drugs, including sedatives, antidepressants (including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors [SSRIs]), beta-blockers and neuroleptics.

Finger Tapping Reflex

People with brain injuries have a harder time perceiving and recalling everyday events because of loss of neurological function. This can put an athlete at risk for mental lapses from day to day. To prevent these lapses from costing an athlete valuable time during competitions, the EMCAs must be activated and monitored closely.

There is also a perception problem for many people when they notice the signs of recovery, although it is natural. “The EMCAs are triggered to avoid pain, but people’s perception is not always accurate,” says Louise Mumble, MD, neuropsychologist and director of the Wade Hall Center for Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy & Neurosciences at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa.

For example, people may perceive clear muscle contractions if mild brain trauma is causing a ripple effect, i.e. the same area of the brain is being affected, however, no change is seen in the target muscles. This is an example of disambiguation, explains Lucy Call, PhD, physiological psychologist and training consultant to the regional sports disability association.

How to recognise Hoffman Sign

It’s uncommon for the brain to respond to passive recovery situations, but it is important to monitor energy shifts and attempt to trick the mind into being more active by utilizing the Hoffman sign reflex. Meditation teaches the brain to relax and begin the healing process, and the best time to do this is during exercise recovery.

No brain is an island, and exercise increases blood flow to almost all parts of the brain and is particularly beneficial for the prefrontal cortex, Call says, shown to be central in recovery processes.

Such tests are usually gentle, but the ability to tap in some misfortunes can be very revealing, particularly for those dedicated to athletic recovery.

Here, a look at why the tapping reflex works and how to tap into it for improved athletic performance, health and wellness.

We don’t use our bodies that way, though. For the purposes of athletic performance, tapping is much more crucial.

Every time you engage in some type of activity, you’re tapping into the nervous system via neurons.

Aaron Beck, MS, certified strength and conditioning specialist, founder of Conditioning X, and author of “Made to Stick.”

In this reflex, the central nervous system stimulates nerves in our eyes, mouth and nasal cavities to trigger a movement in the brain.

If that movement proceeds, the central nervous system contracts the targeted muscles while generating electrical impulses that travel throughout our nervous system.

Aaron Beck

The finger tapping reflex is part of that complex neurological process.

How does the finger tapping reaction start?

The finger tapping reflex might seem negligent, but its function depends on a brain activity called attention. “When you see red light on your computer screen or hear electronic whining, your attention is on whichever is most salient at that time

It’s tapping into attention, here, feel the red light and the whining.

Aaron Beck

By tapping into attention, tapping is able to avoid meaningless movements.

The finger tapping reflex doesn’t fully account for attention and cannot differentiate between what’s important and what’s not.

Aaron Beck

We draw attention to prompts for tapping, says Beck. The simple act of tapping into attention can reveal functional changes.

Like the body building rapport or the brain initiating movement, or learning how to dodge sticky substances, tapping taps may help us learn to do certain skills more efficiently and accurately than we may have been able to without traditional learning methods.

The Hoffman’s test will help diagnose nerve damage.

Our finger tapping reflex speaks volumes

Of course, tapping into attention means we’re tapping into the wrong kinds of taps. Occasionally, these toxic experiences can be quite painful, but don’t confuse tapping into attention for dabbling in drugs or alcohol.

The wrong kinds of habits flow out of attention; if you’re just tapping into it, you’re creating more harm than good.

Aaron Beck

The attention tap itself is a very specific neurological reflex, Beck says. He refers to it as the retrogeine reflex. “It operates in a similar way to the human version of the reflex. We use to drink from a water bottle”. In this case, we tap into attention and obtain enough water in our system to complete the tap.

It’s so familiar, we can recite it backwards.

The feeling: You fidget and tap your fingers in time with your heartbeat.

Fidgeting is used a lot when someone is experiencing something neurologically. There’s a lot of neurological activity in the brain, and we expect that they’ll be able to recover.

Dani Singer, a neuropsychologist and therapist.

Tapping your fingers to your heart’s rhythm. However, requires more activity in the brain, so much so it’s not an effective way to speed recovery, Singer says.

The truth is, tapping your fingers to your heart’s rhythm isn’t a very good test of brain function. “There’s no measure of recovery from brain injuries, none at all,” Singer says. “If you have thoughts of things going well or bad, that’s not really helpful for recovery.”

So how do you tell whether you’re tapping your fingers to your heart’s rhythm? During a training session, or if you’re tapping your fingers to your brain’s?

Wkat is the first resonse of the brain?

In neuropsychology training classes where patients tap their fingers to the heart of the teacher. Who are neurologists, usually use this test to measure brain function recovery, says Dani Singer.

Depending on the quality of training and outcome of neuropsychological testing. Students may be able to stop tapping their fingers to their heart’s rhythm. And start tapering their medications or increasing their activity in recovery exercises.

Never mind the dubious science of tapping your brain to assess neural networks. The feeling you get serving as a neuropsychologist is exactly that. You’re there to help, and you’re there to make a difference for your patients who come through your facility.

You learn about what’s going on in their brains.


You then tap your fingers at a slower tempo to elicit an emotional response in the brain. For the classroom neuropsychologists who work with students and now for trainers. Tapping is an easy way to draw out responses.

Like everyone, your neurological reflexes don’t make up for a brain that’s never recovered. In fact, intermittent fidgeting is one of the highest predictors of brain dysfunction.

What’s more, right brain “thalamic generators” which play a major role in the F-EMR. Are broken and can’t adequately restore function, says Dr. Susan Redline, a neurologist and CEO of the Soteria Center for Energetic and ElectroSystems in Pennsylvania. “Slow tapping, using our index finger at a slower tempo. And more controlled than we would with our index finger. Of a stronger finger, is not going to produce as much of an effect on the system.

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