A reflex arc is the pathway that a nerve reflex, such as the knee jerk reflex, follows.
1. A tap on the knee stimulates sensory receptors, generating a nerve signal. The signal travels along a nerve to the spinal cord.
2. In the spinal cord, the signal is transmitted from the sensory nerve to a motor nerve.
3. The motor nerve sends the signal back to a muscle in the thigh.
4. The muscle contracts, causing the lower leg to jerk upward.
5. The entire reflex occurs without involving the brain.