Neural mechanisms of the corneal blinking reflex in cats

Brain Res. 1977 Apr 15;125(2):265-75. doi: 10.1016/0006-8993(77)90620-5.


Neural mechanisms of the blinking reflex elicited by corneal stimulation were analyzed with electrophysiological techniques in the encéphale isolé cat. (1) Mechanical and electrical stimulation elicited two successive responses of the electromyogram of the orbicularis oculi. Neuromuscular unit studies revealed that the same unit was excited twice and that the latencies of both responses corresponded well with the two EMG responses. (2) The late response was easily affected by anoxia and pentobarbital administration, and was also abolished with the slow-wave sleep stage. (3) Both responses were abolished by ipsilateral transection between the inferior colliculus and genu of the facial nerve. (4) Compared with the latencies of the EMG, the sum of the conduction times through the sensory trigeminal nucleus and the facial nucleus corresponded with the latency of the early response. The sum of the conduction times through the reticular formation, added to the former reflex arc, corresponded to the latency of the late response. (5) The reflex pathway of the early response is consistent with a three-neuron arc passing through the sensory trigeminal nucleus and the facial nucleus. The late response may employ a multisynaptic arc passing through the brain stem medial reticular formation between the sensory trigeminal nucleus and the facial nucleus.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Stem / physiology
  • Cats
  • Cornea / physiology*
  • Decerebrate State
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Electromyography
  • Evoked Potentials
  • Eyelids / physiology*
  • Facial Nerve / physiology
  • Hypoxia / physiopathology
  • Muscles / physiology
  • Neural Conduction
  • Pentobarbital / pharmacology
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Reflex / drug effects
  • Sleep / physiology
  • Trigeminal Nerve / physiology


  • Pentobarbital