Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of Oral Rehabilitation 35:8 (2008), pp. 604-612; doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2842.2008.01862.x Copyright 2008 Z. J. Liu, B. Yamamura, V. Shcherbatyy, and J. R. Green; published by John Wiley/Blackwell Publishing. Used by permission.


Structure and movement of the tongue have been studied extensively, but little study has been carried on its 3D deformation and ensuing volumetric changes during various functions. The purpose of this study is to investigate the volumetric changes of a regional section of the tongue during feeding. Four 12-week-old Yucatan miniature pigs were used. During natural mastication and water drinking, the width, length, thickness and volumetric changes were measured using six implanted ultrasonic crystals, which circumscribed a wedge-shaped volume in the region of the tongue body. Jaw movements were videotaped and digitized. Signals from these two sources were synchronized to allow real-time analyses. Significant volumetric changes (P < 0.001) were found in chewing, ingestion and drinking, and these changes were stereotypical in relation to rhythmic jaw movements. Volumetric change during chewing was not only more regular, but significantly larger (45.6%, P < 0.001) than that during ingestion (31.4%). The volumetric changes were less regular in drinking and the changing range (30.4%) was close to that during ingestion. Real-time analysis indicated that the volume began increasing at late jaw closing and reached the peak at late power stroke. The increase in duration of volume only took up 33.4% of the total chewing cycle length; significantly shorter than that of volume decrease. Correlation analysis revealed that the change in posterior dorsal and ventral widths had the greatest positive association with volumetric change (r = 0.43) in direction. The covariance calculations further indicated that dimensional changes in length and thickness coupled negatively with volumetric changes in amplitude. These results revealed that regional volumetric change of the tongue occurs during feeding and chewing requires larger volumetric changes than do ingestion and drinking. Volumetric expansion occurs in the phase of power stroke during chewing and is coupled with increases in widths in the direction and with decreases of thickness and length in the amplitude. The results further suggested that the regional volumetric expansion may play the determinant role in functional load production on its surrounding tissues, and may also imply that neuromuscular control of the tongue is region-specific, a notion incompatible with traditional scheme of categorizing muscle function in the tongue.