BACKGROUND--The somatosensory evoked blink response (SBR) is a characteristic reflex blink elicited by electrical stimulation of peripheral nerves or other anatomical sites. METHODS--139 patients with neurological disorders were examined for presence of the SBR. Although the SBR was not usually elicitable, it was present in a subset of patients with Parkinson's disease and with hemifacial spasm. It was also present in a patient with Guillain-Barré syndrome before the recovery phase. The latency of the EMG activities responsible for the SBR was significantly shorter than that of the startle blink. CONCLUSIONS--The SBR is not a variant of the startle blink, but is a release phenomenon transmitted via the brainstem reticular formation. This response may be clinically relevant in disorders associated with brainstem lesions and abnormal blinking.
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