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Muscle Nerve. 2002 Jul;26(1):14-30.

Brainstem reflexes: electrodiagnostic techniques, physiology, normative data, and clinical applications.

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Department of Neurology and Clinical Neurophysiology Unit, Academic Medical Center, Meibergdreef 9, 1105 AZ, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


An overview is provided on the physiological aspects of the brainstem reflexes as they can be examined by use of clinically applicable neurophysiological tests. Brainstem reflex studies provide important information about the afferent and efferent pathways and are excellent physiological tools for the assessment of cranial nerve nuclei and the functional integrity of suprasegmental structures. In this review, the blink reflex after trigeminal and nontrigeminal inputs, corneal reflex, levator palpebrae inhibitory reflex, jaw jerk, masseter inhibitory reflex, and corneomandibular reflex are discussed. Following description of the recording technique, physiology, central pathways, and normative data of these reflexes, including an account of the recording of recovery curves, the application of these reflexes is reviewed in patients with various neurological abnormalities, including trigeminal pain and neuralgia, facial neuropathy, and brainstem and hemispherical lesions. Finally, simultaneous electromyographic recording from the orbicularis oculi and the levator palpebrae muscles is discussed briefly in different eyelid movement disorders.

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