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Cortical Activation During Human Volitional Swallowing: An Event-related FMRI Study

Shaheen Hamdy, David J. Mikulis, Adrian Crawley, Shuwen Xue, Helena Lau, Stanley Henry, Nicholas E. Diamant

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Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) provides a safe, noninvasive method for studying task-related cortical neuronal activity. Because the cerebral cortex is strongly implicated in the control of human swallowing, we sought to identify its functional neuroanatomy using fMRI. In 10 healthy volunteers, a swallow event-related paradigm was performed by injecting 5 ml water bolus into the oral cavity every 30 s. Whole brain functional magnetic susceptibility[Formula: see text]-weighted spiral imaging data were simultaneously acquired over 600 s on a 1.5-T magnetic resonance scanner, utilizing the blood oxygenation level-dependent technique, and correlation maps were generated using both >99% percentile rank and spatial extent thresholding. We observed areas of increased signal change consistently in caudal sensorimotor cortex, anterior insula, premotor cortex, frontal operculum, anterior cingulate and prefrontal cortex, anterolateral and posterior parietal cortex, and precuneus and superiomedial temporal cortex. Less consistent activations were also seen in posterior cingulate cortex and putamen and caudate nuclei. Activations were bilateral, but almost every region, particularly the premotor, insular, and frontal opercular cortices, displayed lateralization to one or the other hemisphere. Swallow-related cortical activity is multidimensional, recruiting brain areas implicated in processing motor, sensory, and attention/affective aspects of the task.