Brain Structure and Function

, Volume 223, Issue 2, pp 955–964 | Cite as

Influence of attention and bolus volume on brain organization during swallowing

  • Iva Jestrović
  • James L. Coyle
  • Subashan Perera
  • Ervin Sejdić
Original Article


It has been shown that swallowing involves certain attentional and cognitive resources which, when disrupted can influence swallowing function with in dysphagic patient. However, there are still open questions regarding the influence of attention and cognitive demands on brain activity during swallowing. In order to understand how brain regions responsible for attention influence brain activity during swallowing, we compared brain organization during no-distraction swallowing and swallowing with distraction. Fifteen healthy male adults participated in the data collection process. Participants performed ten 1 ml, ten 5 ml, and ten 10 ml water swallows under both no-distraction conditions and during distraction while EEG signals were recorded. After standard pre-processing of the EEG signals, brain networks were formed using the time–frequency based synchrony measure. The brain networks formed were then compared between the two sets of conditions. Results showed that there are differences in the Delta, Theta, Alpha, Beta, and Gamma frequency bands between no-distraction swallowing and swallowing with distraction. Differences in the Delta and Theta frequency bands can be attributed to changes in subliminal processes, while changes in the Alpha and Beta frequency bands are directly associated with the various levels of attention and cognitive demands during swallowing process, and changes in the Gamma frequency band are due to changes in motor activity. Furthermore, we showed that variations in bolus volume influenced the swallowing brain networks in the Delta, Theta, Alpha, Beta, and Gamma frequency bands. Changes in the Delta, Theta, and Alpha frequency bands are due to sensory perturbations evoked by the various bolus volumes. Changes in the Beta frequency band are due to reallocation of cognitive demands, while changes in the Gamma frequency band are due to changes in motor activity produced by variations in bolus volume. These findings could potentially lead to the development of better understanding of the nature of dysphagia and various rehabilitation strategies for patients with neurogenic dysphagia who have altered attention or impaired cognitive functions.


EEG Graph theory Brain network Dysphagia Swallowing Attention 



Research reported in this publication was supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development of the National Institutes of Health under Award number R01HD074819. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Iva Jestrović
    • 1
  • James L. Coyle
    • 2
  • Subashan Perera
    • 3
  • Ervin Sejdić
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Swanson School of EngineeringUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  2. 2.Department of Communication Science and Disorders, School of Health and Rehabilitation SciencesUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  3. 3.Department of Medicine, Division of Geriatric Medicine, School of MedicineUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA

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