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Exp Brain Res. 1993;94(1):88-96.

Midbrain 6-hydroxydopamine lesions modulate blink reflex excitability.

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Department of Psychology, SUNY, Stony Brook 11794-2500.


The blink reflex abnormalities present in the 6 hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) lesioned rat model of parkinsonism mimicked those of the human with Parkinson's disease. In alert rats, we monitored the long and short latency components of the orbicularis oculi electromyographic (OOemg) response evoked by electrical stimulation of the supraorbital branch of the trigeminal nerve (SO). Two paradigms, habituation and double pulse, provided a measure of blink reflex excitability. In normal rats, repeated stimulation of the SO produced habituation of the R2 component of the blink. In the double pulse paradigm, presentation of two identical SO stimuli resulted in a reduced or suppressed OOemg response to the second stimulus relative to the first. In rats with complete, unilateral lesions of midbrain dopamine neurons, repeated SO stimulation produced facilitation rather than habituation of the R2 component of the blink reflex. This facilitation occurred only with the eyelid contralateral to the lesion. In the double pulse paradigm, the lesioned rats showed increased excitability rather than suppression. This effect occurred bilaterally, although the increased excitability was strongest contralateral to the lesion. Rats with partial lesions of midbrain dopamine neurons exhibited qualitatively similar, but less pronounced blink reflex abnormalities. The R1 component of the blink reflex was unaffected by either the complete or partial lesions. Thus, modification of the blink reflex by 6-OHDA lesions provides a reproducible parkinsonian-like symptom which is amenable to investigations of increases in reflex excitability.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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