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Tongue Structure And Function

A. Sokoloff, T. Burkholder
Published 2012 · Medicine

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The mammalian tongue is essential for normal respiration, swallowing, oral transport, emesis, coughing and, in humans, speech production. To achieve these behaviors, tongue musculature produces myriad changes in tongue shape and in concert with other head and neck structures a wide range of tongue movement speeds. Head and neck muscles are often described as having unconventional kinematic and mechanical demands. They may be required to apply prolonged, continuous force, as the activation of genioglossus to maintain airway patency, and they may be required to change force very rapidly, as the extraocular muscles during saccade. In this chapter, we describe the neuromuscular specialization that facilitates tongue behavior, and contrast this with typical limb function, in which the muscles undergo cyclical motion during relatively infrequent behaviors.
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