Experiments were carried out on seven adult subjects in order to establish the relationship between the magnitude of the masseteric reflex and the amount of voluntary activity present in the muscle at the time the reflex was evoked. At the same time, an effort was made to determine whether the magnitude of the reflex could be enhanced by the simultaneous voluntary contraction of muscles other than that being tested (the Jendrassik manoeuvre). The reflex was evoked by applying controlled downward thrusts to the mandible so as to produce a constant displacement in each case, and the response of the masseter muscle was recorded by means of small bipolar surface electrodes attached to the skin over the muscle. These responses were averaged by a computer in the presence of various static loads supported by the mandible. It was found that in all subjects the amplitude of the masseteric reflex appeared to increase as the weight supported by the mandible increased, and that in the majority of subjects it was possible to demonstrate Jendrassik facilitation by simultaneous contraction of the muscles of the upper limbs. The results of the experiments suggest that the enhancement of the masseteric reflex by voluntary contraction of the jaw-closing muscles may be due to autogenetic factors, synergistic factors, or both, and that at least two processes contribute to the amplitude of the masseteric reflex evoked by tooth contact during mastication—namely, the stimulation of muscle spindles by the impact of opposing teeth and facilitation caused by voluntary activity in the jaw-closing muscles before tooth contact.
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