Nociceptive trigeminocervical reflexes in healthy subjects

Mariano Serrao, Gianluca Coppola, Cherubino Di Lorenzo, Roberto Di Fabio, Luca Padua, Giorgio Sandrini, Francesco Pierelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Electrical stimulation of the supraorbital trigeminal nerve branch induces trigeminocervical reflex responses (TCRs) in the neck muscles. The purpose of this study was to elicit more nociceptive TCR responses through preferential activation of the nociceptive afferents with a concentric surface electrode. Methods: We recorded TCRs in 10 healthy subjects using both a standard (sTCR) and a nociceptive (nTCR) concentric surface electrode. We compared the baseline parameters, stimulus intensity/response, recovery, and habituation curves recorded for the two types of electrode, and assessed the effects of local anaesthesia. Results: Compared with the sTCRs, nTCRs showed a significantly longer latency of the late reflex component, as well as lower pain and higher reflex thresholds. They also showed a different recovery cycle and stimulus intensity/response curve, but similar habituation rate. Local anaesthesia attenuated by 85% the late reflex response to stimulation by the concentric electrode, and by only 15% the response to standard electrode stimulation. Conclusions: The differences observed stimulating with these two electrode types may be due to their different activation of the afferent fibres. Significance: If this study were extended to patients affected by primary headaches, TCR monitoring could emerge as a sensitive tool for detecting changes in nociceptive transmission at the level of trigeminocervical complex.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1563-1568
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2010


  • Habituation
  • Pain
  • Recovery cycle
  • Stimulus intensity/response curve
  • Trigeminocervical complex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Sensory Systems


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