, Volume 33, Issue 3, pp 358–368 | Cite as

Modification of Masticatory Rhythmicity Leading to the Initiation of the Swallowing Reflex in Humans

  • Masaki Yoneda
  • Kazuya Saitoh
Original Article


Modification of movements by proprioceptive feedback during mastication has an important role in shifting from the oral to the pharyngeal phase of swallowing. The aim of this study was to investigate the kinetics of masticatory muscles throughout a sequence of oropharyngeal swallowing and to present a hypothetical model of the involvement of the nervous system in the transition from mastication to the swallowing reflex. Surface electromyographic signals were recorded from the jaw-closing masseter muscles and the jaw-opening suprahyoid muscle group when a piece of bread (3–5 g) was ingested. Participants were not provided any additional instruction regarding how to chew and swallow. In the final stage of mastication, compared with other stages of mastication, the duration between sequential peak times of rhythmic activity of the masseter muscles was prolonged. Electromyography revealed no significant change in the suprahyoid muscle group. Accordingly, contraction of the jaw-closing muscles and the jaw-opening muscles altered from out-of-phase to in-phase. We have presented a hypothetical model based on the results of the present study, in which mastication shifts to the swallowing reflex when feed-forward inputs from rhythm generators for the jaw-closing and the jaw-opening muscles converge onto an assumed “convertor” neuron group concurrently. This model should contribute to understanding the pathophysiology of dysphagia.


Mastication Muscle spindle Sensory feedback Swallowing 



We would like to thank Seiya Himeno, Ryoji Tawara, and Ryota Iwashita for their assistance in data collection. This study was supported by The Mitsubishi Foundation [Grant number 24319] and JSPS KAKENHI [Grant number 16K11237] to K.S.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

None of the authors have potential conflicts of interest to disclose.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Arts and Sports Education, Graduate School of EducationKumamoto UniversityKumamotoJapan
  2. 2.Lifelong Sports and Welfare Course, Faculty of EducationKumamoto UniversityKumamotoJapan

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