The habituation index is a quantitative expression of the ability of the orbicularis oculi (blink reflex) to adapt to a series of electrical stimuli applied to the supraorbital region. This parameter has been studied in a group of normal control subjects, and the results compared with those in cases of idiopathic and drug-induced Parkinsonism, states of dementia, and dyskinesias such as Huntington's chorea and senile chorea. Patients with Huntington's chorea showed a tendency for the reflex to habituate readily in contrast to patients with dementia caused by cortical atrophy and those with Parkinson's disease. Younger patients with Huntington's chorea had indices within the normal range. It seems unlikely that this test will prove of value in the detection of clinically unaffected relatives. Where dementia was associated with a reversible intracranial lesion, the habituation index was studied before and after treatment. Failure of habituation in this condition appears to be due to the release of a primitive protective reflex.
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