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Neuroplasticity and Swallowing

Abstract

Recent research has suggested that the central nervous system controlling swallowing can undergo experience-dependent plasticity. Moreover, swallowing neuroplastic change may be associated with behavioural modulation. This article presents research evidence suggesting that nonbehavioural and behavioural interventions, as well as injury, can induce swallowing neuroplasticity. These studies indicate that while swallowing and limb neuroplasticity share certain features, certain principles of swallowing neuroplasticity may be distinct. Thus, an understanding of swallowing neuroplasticity is necessary in terms of explaining and predicting the (1) behavioural effects of injury to the swallowing nervous system and (2) effects of swallowing interventions applied in rehabilitation.

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Acknowledgments

This work was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Ontario Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology, and The University of Western Ontario. The author acknowledges the valuable contributions of Kathy Czachorowski in manuscript preparation.

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Correspondence to Ruth E. Martin.

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Martin, R.E. Neuroplasticity and Swallowing. Dysphagia 24, 218–229 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00455-008-9193-9

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Keywords

  • Neuroplasticity
  • Swallowing
  • Cerebral cortex
  • Rehabilitation
  • Experience
  • Oropharyngeal
  • Deglutition
  • Deglutition disorders