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Transient Cortical Stimulation To Alter Swallowing Physiology

Ianessa A. Humbert

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Abstract Older adults are disproportionately affected by swallowing impairment, or dysphagia, a condition that can lead to increased morbidity and death. Delayed initiation of swallowing is a common and devastating pathophysiology of neurogenic dysphagia, and also is experienced by healthy older adults, making functional swallowing less safe. It is still not known if differences in activation of the cortex (primary sensory motor region) are responsible for delays in swallowing initiation, or if it is the consequence of advancing age. The goals of this proposal are to understand the functional role of the primary sensory-motor cortex on swallowing initiation and to characterize the effect of aging on swallowing initiation with transient cortical disruption. The overall hypothesis is that transient disruption of the primary sensory-motor cortex will produce measurable delays in swallowing initiation in young and old adults, but older adults will have more pronounced deficits. This investigation will determine whether cortical areas are involved in initiating swallowing as well as the importance of timing on this function.