Evidence that an internal schema adapts swallowing to upper airway requirements

We investigated if swallowing is similar in that movement amplitude may be scaled by the functional goal for airway protection during swallowing, rather than by head and neck size

Seng Mun Wong


Scholarcy highlights

  • Swallowing or deglutition is initiated by a brainstem patterned motor response that is influenced by cortical input and sensory feedback
  • We examined if differences in movement requirements among healthy individuals due to differences in anatomy would predict hyoid and laryngeal displacement magnitudes required for airway protection during swallowing
  • Two studies were conducted to examine if movement during swallowing depends upon overall size, or is driven by movement targets required for laryngeal airway protection for safe swallowing
  • If swallowing movements were scaled by body size, in the first study, stronger relationships would have been found between pharyngeal neck length and swallowing movement across healthy individuals of different body size
  • These relationships would be found across individuals in the first study, as well as within individuals in the second study when the hyo-laryngeal length and area changed with different head positions for swallowing
  • The extent of anterior hyoid displacement required for upper oesophageal sphincter opening is proposed to be consistent across individuals and bolus volumes and textures, and may contribute to its relative invariance in normal swallowing compared to hyo-laryngeal movements in other directions
  • These movement goals probably explain how healthy individuals differed in their extent of hyo-laryngeal displacement produced during swallowing based on their vestibule size and hyo-laryngeal positions at rest prior to swallowing

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