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Valentina Carlile Osteopata
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  • Writer's pictureValentina Carlile DO

Lateral eye movements in sync with the tongue. The oculoglossal reflex


Lateral eye movements in sync with the tongue. The oculoglossal reflex


In every teaching and in different clinical situations I talk about the oculoglossal reflex which correlates the involuntary movement of the tongue on the same side as the voluntary movement of the eyes.


But what is it exactly?


The oculoglossal reflex is described as a primitive infantile reflex in humans that is part of infant swallowing development and contributes to the development of feeding mechanisms, and which should normally disappear as the infant grows and begins physiological adult swallowing.


However, research has shown that this reflex does not always disappear in adults; indeed, one study in particular highlighted it in 83% of the subjects observed while, in those who had not shown it, the need to accompany the eye movement with some movement of the mouth or head.


Research over the years has identified several eye-related reflexes that help fix the retina on an object during complex head movements, some of which are linked to the vestibular system, others are part of complex deep brainstem reflexes.


The neurological pathway related to this phenomenon is similar to that of the voluntary pathway of horizontal conjugated gaze; the frontal eye fields initiate it, directly and indirectly, and then project to the contralateral paramedian pontine reticular formation (PPRF). The hypothesis is that there is a direct connection to the ipsilateral CN VI, to the contralateral CN III through the medial longitudinal fasciculus (FLM) and that it connects bilaterally to the hypoglossal nuclei to inhibit the ipsilateral hypoglossal nucleus and activate the contralateral hypoglossal nucleus. This pathway and connection lead to the synchronization of tongue movement and horizontal eye movements on the same side through the known activation of the FML pathway.


 

Valentina Carlile - Osteopath expert in Osteopathy applied to voice and speech disorders since 2002. For information and reservations visit the page Contacts



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