Reflex Responses of Lip Muscles in Young and Older Women The perioral reflex in response to innocuous mechanical stimulation of the lip vermilion was studied in 20 young and 20 older women. Responses to stimuli at the right and left sides of both the upper and lower lips were recorded. Results show significant specificity of response, especially for upper lip ... Research Article
Research Article  |   June 01, 1996
Reflex Responses of Lip Muscles in Young and Older Women
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Amy B. Wohlert
    Department of Audiology and Speech Sciences Purdue University West Lafayette, IN
  • Contact author: Amy B. Wohlert, PhD, Department of Audiology & Speech Sciences, Purdue University, 1353 Heavilon Hall, West Lafayette, IN 47907. E-mail: wohlert@sage.cc.purdue.edu
Article Information
Special Populations / Older Adults & Aging / Speech / Research Articles
Research Article   |   June 01, 1996
Reflex Responses of Lip Muscles in Young and Older Women
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 1996, Vol. 39, 578-589. doi:10.1044/jshr.3903.578
History: Received October 5, 1995 , Accepted January 17, 1996
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 1996, Vol. 39, 578-589. doi:10.1044/jshr.3903.578
History: Received October 5, 1995; Accepted January 17, 1996

The perioral reflex in response to innocuous mechanical stimulation of the lip vermilion was studied in 20 young and 20 older women. Responses to stimuli at the right and left sides of both the upper and lower lips were recorded. Results show significant specificity of response, especially for upper lip sites. Reflex response at the site of stimulation was greatest in amplitude and shortest in latency, followed by response at sites ipsilateral to the site of stimulation. Younger subjects showed greater localizing tendency than older subjects.

Stimulation was significantly less likely to produce a reflex response in the older group. When reflex responses did occur, they were significantly lower in amplitude and longer in latency than the responses of the younger group. Nonetheless, reflex responses were common in both groups, with responses at the site of stimulation occurring 78% of the time in older women and 90% of the time in younger women. Every participant showed at least one reflex response to lip stimulation. Results suggest decreasing complexity of synaptic drive to the perioral system in old age but also show that reflexive response does not deteriorate completely, remaining an available element for motor control in normal older women.

Acknowledgments
This work was funded by NIH grant R03 DC01945–02 and by a Showalter Trust Award. Anne Smith was a valued consultant in all stages of this project. I thank Goangshiuan Ying for his assistance in computer programming and Susannah Andre, Tisha Kauffman, Charles Manry III, Susan McGarvey, and April Robillos for their assistance in testing participants and analyzing data.
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