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J Dev Physiol. 1992 Dec;18(6):253-61.

Preweaning feeding mechanisms in the rabbit.

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Department of Functional Anatomy, Academic Centre for Dentistry Amsterdam (ACTA), The Netherlands.


Muscle contraction patterns and mandibular movements of infant rabbits during suckling and chewing were compared. Oral muscle activity was recorded by fine-wire electromyography, while jaw movements and milk bottle pressure were registered. Suckling and mastication have a comparable cycle duration and share a common pattern of oral muscle activity which consists of a succession of a jaw closer burst, during which the jaw closes and undergoes a power stroke (in mastication), a suprahyoid burst with a stationary or slightly opening jaw and a digastric burst with fast jaw opening (the power stroke of suckling). Compared to suckling, mastication shows decreased jaw opener activity, increased jaw closer activity, development of jaw closing activity in the lateral pterygoid, and increased asymmetry in the masseter by development of a new differentiated motor pattern on the working side. The study shows that the suckling motor pattern enables the infant rabbits to change to chewing with just a few modifications.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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