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Neurosci Res. 1998 Oct;32(2):131-5.

Upper airway motor outputs during sneezing and coughing in decerebrate cats.

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Department of Otolaryngology, School of Medicine, Chiba University, Japan.


The purposes of the present study were to determine which upper airway movements cause a difference in the expiratory airflow pathway between sneezing and coughing, and to develop a new animal model for studying the neural mechanism of sneezing in paralyzed animals, i.e. fictive sneezing. We compared the upper airway motor patterns of sneezing and coughing, induced by electrical stimulation of the anterior ethmoidal nerve (AEN) and superior laryngeal nerve, respectively, in non-paralyzed decerebrate cats. Respiratory and laryngeal motor patterns that consisted of an inspiration phase, compression phase, and expulsion phase were observed for both sneezing and coughing. The main difference was observed in the activity of the elevator of the back of the tongue, styloglossus (SG) muscle, which was explosively activated during the expulsion phase of sneezing, whereas it was virtually silent during coughing. The nasopharyngeal closers were weakly to moderately activated during sneezing. Their activities during coughing were weaker than during sneezing. Furthermore, the AEN-induced activities of the phrenic and abdominal nerves and the lateral branch of the hypoglossal nerve (lat-XII), which innervates the SG muscle, in paralyzed cats were consistent with the activities of the diaphragm, abdominal, and SG muscles during actual sneezing in non-paralyzed cats. Thus, we conclude that tongue movement is the main difference in the motor outputs between sneezing and coughing, which probably causes greater nasal airflow in sneezing, and that it is necessary to record the activity of the lat-XII to identify fictive sneezing in paralyzed cats.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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