Lingual propulsion during swallowing is characterized by the sequential elevation of the anterior, middle, and dorsal regions of the tongue. Although lingual discoordination underlies many swallowing disorders, the coordinative organization of lingual propulsion during the typical and disordered swallow is poorly understood. The purpose of this investigation was to quantitatively describe the coordinative organization of lingual propulsion during the normal adult swallow. Tongue movement data were obtained from the X-Ray Microbeam Database at the University of Wisconsin. Movement of four pellets placed on specific tongue regions were tracked in 36 healthy adult participants while they swallowed 10 cc of water across five discrete trials. The propulsive action of the tongue during bolus transport was quantified using a cross-correlation analysis. Lingual transit time (LTT), which was defined as the interval (lag time) between the movements of the anterior- and posterior-most tongue regions, was determined to be approximately 168 ms. The average time interval (lag) between the movements of the posterior tongue regions was significantly shorter than the intervals between more anterior tongue regions. The results also suggest that during bolus transport movement patterns of the anterior tongue regions are distinct from those of the posterior tongue regions. Future work is needed to determine if the absence of the observed coordinative organization of lingual propulsion is indicative of oral stage dysphagia.
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The authors would like to acknowledge NIDCD and NICHD for their funding and support for this project through the following grants: NIDCD (R03 DC004643, T32 DC05359, F31 DC006337, & R01 DC006463) and NICHD (T32 HD07489).
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