Influence of age and gender on the jaw-stretch and blink reflexes
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The aim of this study is to investigate the influence of age and gender on jaw-stretch and blink reflexes (BR). Thirty “young” (26.5±0.7 years) and thirty “old” (47.8±1.8 years) healthy adults were included. Short-latency stretch reflex responses were evoked in the masseter and temporalis muscles by fast jaw-stretches, and BR in orbicularis oculi muscle were evoked by painful electrical pulses (0.5 ms duration), delivered by a concentric electrode placed on the left lower forehead close to the supraorbital foramen. For the jaw-stretch reflex, the pre-stimulus EMG activity in the old subjects was significantly lower than that of the young subjects in the right and left masseter and temporalis muscles (P<0.006), whereas there was no difference in the results between males and females. The normalized peak-to-peak amplitude of the EMG in the left masseter and left and right temporalis muscles was significantly lower in the old subjects compared with the young subjects (P<0.02). Females had significantly higher normalized peak-to-peak EMG amplitudes compared with males in the right masseter and left temporalis muscles (P<0.05). The old subjects had significantly lower root mean square (RMS) (P=0.01) and average (P<0.02) BR values in the right and left orbicularis oculi muscles, and lower area under the curve (AUC) (P=0.02) values in the left orbicularis oculi muscle compared with the young subjects. Female subjects had significantly lower AUC (P=0.02) in the left orbicularis oculi muscle compared with males. The old subjects had significantly later offset (P<0.003) and longer duration (P<0.001) in the left orbicularis oculi compared with the young subjects. The results of the present study demonstrated a significant effect of both age and gender on stretch and BR and suggested that these variables should be taken into consideration in the interpretation of brainstem reflexes in basic and clinical studies.
KeywordsAge differences Trigeminal brainstem reflexes Gender differences Jaw-stretch reflex Blink reflex
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