The somatosensory blink reflex in upper and lower brainstem lesions

Lucía Leó N, Jordi Casanova-Molla, Giuseppe Lauria, Josep Valls-Solé

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The brainstem pathways that mediate the somatosensory blink reflex (SBR) are not completely understood. We hypothesized that the circuits of the SBR might be affected separately from those of the trigeminal blink reflex (TBR). We examined 7 patients with mesencephalic lesions and 8 patients with medullary lesions. The SBR was elicited by median nerve stimulation. The TBR was elicited by supraorbital nerve stimulation. In patients with upper brainstem lesions, the TBR was normal, whereas the SBR was generally abnormal. The SBR was either absent or small and was significantly delayed with respect to control subjects. The opposite was the rule in patients with lower brainstem lesions who had delayed or absent TBR and no abnormal findings in the SBR. The SBR is mediated through circuits in the upper brainstem. Study of the SBR can be helpful in the neurophysiological assessment of patients with mesencephalic lesions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)196-202
Number of pages7
JournalMuscle and Nerve
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2011


  • Blink reflex
  • Brainstem
  • Somatosensory afferents
  • Vascular midbrain lesions
  • Wallenberg syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Physiology


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