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January 1959

Superficial Abdominal Reflexes in Man: A Clinical and Electromyographic Study

Author Affiliations


From the Division of Neurological Medicine, The Johns Hopkins and Baltimore City Hospitals.

AMA Arch NeurPsych. 1959;81(1):28-36. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1959.02340130048004

Rosenbach,20 in 1876, first described visible contractions of abdominal musculature evoked by gentle scratching of skin. Since the zone of effective stimulation was not necessarily limited to areas immediately adjacent to the site of muscular response, and since the contractions were abolished by appropriate motoneuron lesions, the responses were justifiably considered reflex in origin. They have, in fact, been commonly termed superficial abdominal reflexes, although considerable doubt exists concerning their basic mechanisms. Since these reflexes may be depressed or absent in patients with rostrally situated lesions of the central nervous system, some observers, including Astwazaturow1 and Monrad-Krohn,17 have postulated that the intrinsic reflex arc in normal persons must traverse the highest levels of the nervous system. The superficial abdominal reflex may be retained, however, on the corresponding side after ablation of the premotor cortex (Bucy3), after removal of the cortex of the hemisphere (Dandy6), and