Biomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 1119–1130 | Cite as

Laplace-based modeling of fiber orientation in the tongue

  • Arnold D. Gomez
  • Nahla Elsaid
  • Maureen L. Stone
  • Jiachen Zhuo
  • Jerry L. Prince
Original Paper


Mechanical modeling of tongue deformation plays a significant role in the study of breathing, swallowing, and speech production. In the absence of internal joints, fiber orientations determine the direction of sarcomeric contraction and have great influence over real and simulated tissue motion. However, subject-specific experimental observations of fiber distribution are difficult to obtain; thus, models of fiber distribution are generally used in mechanical simulations. This paper describes modeling of fiber distribution using solutions of Laplace equations and compares the effectiveness of this approach against tractography from diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging. The experiments included qualitative comparison of streamlines from the fiber model against experimental tractography, as well as quantitative differences between biomechanical simulations focusing in the region near the genioglossus. The model showed good overall agreement in terms of fiber directionality and muscle positioning when compared to subject-specific imaging results and the literature. The angle between the fiber distribution model against tractography in the genioglossus and geniohyoid muscles averaged \(22^{\circ }\) likely due to experimental noise. However, kinematic responses were similar between simulations with modeled fibers versus experimentally obtained fibers; average discrepancy in surface displacement ranged from 1 to 7 mm, and average strain residual magnitude ranged from \(4\times 10^{-3}\) to 0.2. The results suggest that, for simulation purposes, the modeled fibers can act as a reasonable approximation for the tongue’s fiber distribution. Also, given its agreement with the global tongue anatomy, the approach may be used in model-based reconstruction of displacement tracking and diffusion results.


Tongue biomechanics Biomechanical modeling Fiber orientation Magnetic resonance 



Many thanks to Jonghye Woo at Hardvard Medical School for his technical assistance with atlas images.


This study was funded by Grants R01DC014717 and 2R01NS055951 from the National Institutes of Health in the United States.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Research Involving Human Participants

All research protocols involving human volunteers were approved by the Institutional Review Board Office at the University of Maryland, where the imaging experiments were conducted. All volunteers signed informed consent notices.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arnold D. Gomez
    • 1
  • Nahla Elsaid
    • 2
  • Maureen L. Stone
    • 3
    • 4
  • Jiachen Zhuo
    • 2
  • Jerry L. Prince
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Electrical and Computer EngineeringJohns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Department of Diagnostic Radiology and Nuclear MedicineUniversity of Maryland School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA
  3. 3.Department of Neural and Pain SciencesUniversity of Maryland Dental SchoolBaltimoreUSA
  4. 4.Department of Orthodontics and PediatricsUniversity of Maryland Dental SchoolBaltimoreUSA

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