Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 237, Issue 11, pp 2767–2774 | Cite as

Prefrontal cortex activity induced by periodontal afferent inputs downregulates occlusal force

  • Takahiro Kishimoto
  • Takaharu GotoEmail author
  • Tetsuo Ichikawa
Research Article


The prefrontal cortex (PFC) plays an important role in several cognitive functions, such as planning, decision making, and social behavior. We previously reported that periodontal sensory input significantly increases PFC activity during the motor task of maintaining occlusal (biting) force. However, the relationships between periodontal sensation, PFC activity, and the performance of motor tasks have not been evaluated in detail. Therefore, using functional near-infrared spectroscopy, we investigated PFC activity by monitoring changes in cerebral blood flow (CBF) to specific areas of the PFC that corresponded to changes in occlusal force generated during four different biting tasks: (1) occlusion with the central incisor with an interocclusal distance of 5 mm (BI-5 mm); or (2) 10 mm (BI-10 mm); (3) occlusion with the first molars with an interocclusal distance of 5 mm (BM-5 mm), or (4) 10 mm (BM-10 mm). Occlusion of molars generated increased PFC regional CBF as the interocclusal distance decreased (BM-10 mm vs BM-5 mm). No significant differences in CBF during occlusion of incisors were found when comparing 5 mm and 10 mm intercostal distances (BI-5 mm vs BI-10 mm). The mean occlusal force generated by BM-5 mm occlusion was significantly lower than that generated by BM-10 mm occlusion. Taken together, our results suggest that the PFC decreases efferent signaling to motor units, to reduce occlusal force generated when periodontal sensation, which is greater when the interocclusal distance is reduced, is primarily responsible for maintaining occlusal force in the absence of sensations from the temporomandibular joint and muscle spindles.


Prefrontal cortex Periodontal afferent inputs Functional near-infrared spectroscopy Occlusal force 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Prosthodontics and Oral RehabilitationTokushima University Graduate School of Biomedical SciencesTokushimaJapan

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