Transitional properties of the mechanically evoked perioral reflex from infancy through adulthood

Steven M. Barlow, Donald S. Finan, Paul T. Bradford, Richard D. Andreatta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


The organization of motor responses in the orbicularis oris muscle following the delivery of punctate mechanical inputs to vermilion skin of the lips was studied in a group of young infants, school-age children, and adults during periods of voluntary lip muscle activation. A specially designed multi-point array skin contactor, coupled to a position-servo controlled linear motor, was highly effective in driving the early component of the perioral reflex (R1). Overall, the evoked R1 response obtained from the infant was of variable amplitude relative to the children and adults, lacked response specificity, and occurred it a longer latency. This brainstem mediated sensorimotor action appears to take on several characteristics of the adult form by the age of 12. The emergence and maturation of mechanically evoked perioral reflexes is discussed in relation to the acquisition of motor skills, including speech and smiling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-188
Number of pages8
JournalBrain Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1 1993

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements. This study was supported in part by grants from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders # R01 DC00365-06, RC Electronics Incorporated (Santa Barbara, CA), Neuro Logic Incorporated (Bloomington, IN), and the Gerber Corporation. Special gratitude is expressed towards Mr. Tom Creutz and Mr. Greg Suing for development of signal processing software and hidden line graphics routines.


  • Active force
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Electromyography
  • Infant
  • Mechanical stimulation
  • Orbicularis oris
  • Perioral reflex
  • Skin contactor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


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