Photographic, electrophysiological and neurobehavioral analyses were used to examine the contribution of trigeminal inputs to the behavioral organization of eating in the rat. During eating, jaw opening was always preceded by a period of perioral contact with the food source. Mechanical or electrical stimulation of oral and perioral areas in anesthetized animals elicited compound action potentials in the mylohyoid nerve (jaw-opener innervation) at short latencies and low stimulus intensities. Trigeminal orosensory deafferentation (sparing jaw muscle afferents and efferents) abolished or significantly reduced mouth opening during eating. We conclude that trigeminal orosensory inputs provide an essential link in the stimulus-response chain mediating eating in the rat.
- jaw opening reflex
- trigeminal nerve