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Brain Res. 1986 Apr 23;371(2):298-304.

Inhibition of jaw-closing muscles by electrical stimulation of the ophthalmic division in man.


High-intensity stimulation of the supraorbital region elicits, together with a blink reflex, a reflex inhibition of the jaw-closing muscles in normal man. The response differs from the well known inhibition obtained by intra- and perioral stimulation in two main features. Firstly, it consists of a single late silent period (SP), only occasionally preceded by a short and partial decrease of the background EMG activity; secondly, the inhibitory response appears at a rather high threshold, requiring a stimulus intensity which is 4-fold the sensory perception threshold and 3-fold that required to evoke the blink reflex. Electrical and mechanical stimulation of the cornea failed to evoke a significant inhibitory reflex. The silent period and the blink reflex were similarly affected by local anaesthetic infiltration of the supraorbital skin, suggesting that the afferents subserving the two reflexes belong to the same fibre group; the higher threshold of the supraorbital inhibitory response may be explained by the need for a larger spatial summation. The considerable latency gain and relatively rapid habituation shown by the supraorbital inhibitory response imply a multisynaptic circuit, similar to that responsible for the second silent period which occurs following 'oral' stimulation. A common interneuronal net for these two reflexes is suggested by the results of interaction experiments employing combined supra- and infraorbital stimulation.

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