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An Investigation Of The Coupling Between Respiration, Mastication, And Swallowing In The Awake Rabbit

D. H. McFarland, J. P. Lund

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1. The interrelationships between respiration, mastication, and swallowing were studied in awake rabbits previously prepared for the chronic recording of jaw movements and the electromyographic activity of jaw and throat muscles. These signals were recorded before, during, and after the mastication of rabbit chow, together with respiratory movements. 2. The onset of activity in the thyrohyoid muscle was used as a marker for swallowing. Measurements were made of cycle duration, and the phase relationship between the masticatory and respiratory rhythms was calculated. Deviations in masticatory and respiratory movements during swallowing were detected; the phases of the masticatory and respiratory cycles in which the deviations occurred were determined, and the intervals between the deviations and the swallowing marker were calculated. 3. Two characteristic swallowing patterns were observed that were called Interposed and Terminal swallows. Interposed swallows occurred within a masticatory sequence, while Terminal swallows ended the sequence. 4. In most rabbits, respiratory rate slowed during mastication. This brought the average frequency of the two movements closer together, and there was a weak but significant correlation between the masticatory and respiratory rates. However, respiration and mastication were not linked on a cycle-by-cycle basis, and the change in respiratory rate was found to be unrelated to masticatory rate. Further, there was no tendency for the masticatory and respiratory rhythms to adopt any particular phase relationship as swallowing was approached. Some weak and transient phase coupling of the two systems occurred after swallowing. 5. During swallowing, respiration was most often inhibited soon after the start of the inspiratory phase. Swallows within a masticatory sequence occurred most frequently during the early opening phase of the masticatory cycle, and swallows after the end of a sequence occurred with the jaw in the resting position. There was a strong tendency for the durations of the masticatory and respiratory cycles containing deviations to be longer than preceding control cycles, and the effect on respiration lasted several cycles. 6. For both Interposed and Terminal swallows, a tight temporal relationship was observed between deviations in respiration and the swallowing marker: most deviations tended to occur before swallowing. In contrast, the time of deviations in mastication relative to the swallowing marker depended on swallow type and was more variable. Finally, there was no link between the start of the pauses in the two rhythms. 7. We conclude that respiratory and masticatory processes are not strongly coupled.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)