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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2008 Sep;105(3):791-9. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.90485.2008. Epub 2008 Jun 12.

Correspondence between food consistency and suprahyoid muscle activity, tongue pressure, and bolus transit times during the oropharyngeal phase of swallowing.

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Div. of Dysphagia Rehabilitation, Niigata Univ. Graduate School of Medical and Dental Sciences, Chuo-ku, Niigata 951-8514, Japan.


This study aimed to evaluate the effects of food texture and viscosity on the swallowing function by measuring tongue pressure and performing a videofluorographic (VF) examination. Eleven normal adults were recruited for this study. Test foods with different consistencies and liquid contents, i.e., a half-solid nutrient made of 0.8 and 1.5% agar powder, syrup, and a liquid containing 40 wt/vol% barium sulfate, were swallowed, and the anterior (AT) and posterior tongue pressures (PT) and electromyographic (EMG) activity of the suprahyoid muscles were recorded, together with VF images. The timing of each event obtained from EMG, tongue pressure, and VF recordings was measured and then compared. We found that the AT and PT activity patterns were similar and showed a single peak. The peak, area, and time duration of all of the variables for AT and PT and EMG burst increased with increasing hardness of the bolus. The onset of the EMG burst always preceded those of the AT and PT activities, while there were no significant differences in peak and offset times among EMG burst, AT, and PT. Total swallowing time and oral ejection time were significantly longer during the swallowing of 1.5% agar than any other boluses, while pharyngeal transit time and clearance time were significantly longer during the swallowing of syrup, which was as hard as the liquid, but showed a higher viscosity than the liquid. The results suggested that the major effects of food hardness were to delay oral ejection time, which strongly delays total swallowing time. In addition, pharyngeal bolus transit is not dependent on the hardness of food but on its viscosity.

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