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Arch Oral Biol. 1997 Jun;42(6):429-41.

Tongue-jaw linkages in human feeding: a preliminary videofluorographic study.

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Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Good Samaritan Hospital, Baltimore, MD 21239, U.S.A.


Motions of the tongue and jaw are closely coupled during feeding in mammals, but this relation has not been studied in humans. A videofluorographic method for measuring tongue movement relative to jaw motion using small radiopaque markers affixed to the tongue with dental adhesive was developed and tested in five individuals. Sagittal movements of the anterior tongue marker (ATM) and the lower jaw were measured for complete feeding sequences with a computerized image-analysis system. The ATM and jaw moved in loosely linked, semirhythmic cycles. Vertical and horizontal maxima of ATM motion were determined for each motion cycle in relation to maximum and minimum gape (greatest jaw opening and closing, respectively). The amplitude of tongue movements and their timing differed between hard and soft foods (p < 0.001). For both food types, motions varied as the feeding sequence progressed from ingestion to terminal swallow (p < 0.001). A basic temporal sequence was found in 70% of the 224 cycles analysed. On average, the ATM reached its most inferior position just after maximum gape, its most posterior during jaw closing, its most superior just after minimum gape, and its most anterior during jaw opening (p < 0.001). This study confirms that tongue and jaw movements are linked during human feeding, as they are in other mammals.

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