Reduced somatosensory activations in swallowing with age

Georgia A. Malandraki, Adrienne L. Perlman, Dimitrios C. Karampinos, Bradley P. Sutton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Understanding the neural functional organization of swallowing in healthy elders is essential in diagnosing and treating older adults with swallowing difficulties. The primary aims of this investigation were to identify the neural activation sites of different components of deglutition in healthy elders using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and to investigate age differences in the neural control of swallowing. Ten young (age range 19-25 years of age) and nine older (age range 66-77 years of age) right-handed healthy individuals were scanned in a 3-Tesla MRI scanner. Subjects were visually cued for both a "Swallow" task and for component/control tasks ("Prepare to swallow," "Tap your tongue," and "Clear your throat"). Behavioral interleaved gradient (BIG) methodology was used to address movement related artifacts. Between-group comparisons revealed statistically stronger activations in the primary somatosensory cortex of young adults during the motor tasks examined. Both groups showed activations in the major motor areas involved in the initiation and execution of movement; however, areas involved in sensory processing, sensorimotor integration and/or motor coordination and control, showed reduced or limited activity in the elderly. Potential implications of these findings for clinical practice are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)730-743
Number of pages14
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2011


  • Aging
  • Deglutition
  • Deglutition disorders
  • Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Neurophysiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anatomy
  • Neurology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology


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