The effects of the cerebral, cerebellar and vestibular systems on the head stabilization reflex


NEUROLOGICAL SCIENCES, vol.37, no.5, pp.737-742, 2016 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 37 Issue: 5
  • Publication Date: 2016
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s10072-015-2459-8
  • Title of Journal : NEUROLOGICAL SCIENCES
  • Page Numbers: pp.737-742


The head stabilization reflex (HSR) is a brain stem reflex which appears in the neck muscles in response to sudden head position changes and brings the head to its previous position. The reflex mechanism has not been understood. The afferent fibers come from cervical muscle spindles, vestibular structures, and the accessory nerve, the efferents from the accessory nerve. In this study, we aim to investigate the roles of supraspinal neural structures and the vestibular system on the HSR. The patient group consisted of 86 patients (33 cerebral cortical lesion, 14 cerebellar syndrome and 39 vestibular inexcitability or hypoexcitability); the control group was composed of 32 healthy volunteers. Concentric needle electrodes were inserted into the sternocleidomastoid muscle (SCM) and the accessory nerves were stimulated with the electrical stimulator. A reflex response of about 45-55 ms was obtained from the contralateral SCM muscle. 50 % of cases had bilateral loss whereas 37 % of cases with unilateral cerebellar lesions had an ipsilateral reflex loss. Bilateral HSR loss was detected in 84 % of cases with bilateral cerebellar lesions. Bilateral reflex loss was observed in 70 % of patients with unilateral cortical lesions and 94 % of those with bilateral vestibular dysfunction. Ipsilateral HSR loss was observed in 55 % of cases with unilateral vestibular dysfunction. It was discovered that supraspinal structures and the vestibular system may have an excitatory effect on HSR. This effect may be lost in supra-segmental and vestibular dysfunctions. The localization value of HSR was found to be rather poor in our study.