Reflex blinking provides a useful experimental tool for various functional studies on the peripheral and central nervous system, yet the neuronal circuitry underlying this reflex is not precisely known. In the present study, we investigated as to whether neurons in the reticular formation and rostral cervical spinal cord (C1) may be involved in the blink reflex in rats. To this end we investigated c-Fos expression in these areas following supraorbital nerve stimulation combined with retrograde tracing of gold conjugated horse radish peroxidase (Gold-HRP) from the superior colliculus. We observed many double labeled neurons in the parvocellular reticular nucleus, medullary reticular formation, and laminae IV and V of C1. Thus, these brain regions contain neurons that may be involved in blink reflexes as well as eye movements, because they both can be activated following peri-orbital stimulation and project to the superior colliculus. Consequently, we suggest that the medullary reticular formation and C1 region play a central role in the coordination of eye and eyelid movements during reflex blinking.

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Neuroscience Research
Department of Neuroscience

Smit, A. E., Buisseret, P., Buisseret-Delmas, C., de Zeeuw, C., VanderWerf, F., & Zerari-Mailly, F. (2006). Reticulo-collicular and spino-collicular projections involved in eye and eyelid movements during the blink reflex. Neuroscience Research, 56(4), 363–371. doi:10.1016/j.neures.2006.08.005