This phenomenon was first reported by Dagnini1 at the meeting of the Academy of Medical Sciences of Bologna, June 17, 1908. Four months later B. Aschner,2 unaware of the work of Dagnini, published a paper on the same subject. The reflex is called Aschner's reflex ordinarily, but in a spirit of fairness and justice to the Italian scientist, it should be identified primarily with the name of Dagnini.
The phenomenon consists in slowing of the radial pulse, lowering of the blood pressure and modification of the respiratory rhythm from compression of the eyeballs. Long before Dagnini and Aschner, Luciani had observed that stimulation of the branches of the trigeminal nerve with choloroform produced retardation of the heart; and Wagner von Jauregg used compression of the eyes to arouse stuporous patients. He did not explain the cause or the mechanism of the phenomenon.
Experiments on animals, carried out
NACCARATI S. THE OCULOCARDIAC REFLEX (DAGNINI-ASCHNER PHENOMENON)—ITS USE IN MEDICINE AND PSYCHOLOGYAN EXPERIMENTAL AND COMPARATIVE STUDY OF GROUPS OF NORMAL AND PATHOLOGIC SUBJECTS. Arch NeurPsych. 1921;5(1):40–57. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1921.02180250043004
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