Few studies have reported the activation sequence of the swallowing muscles in healthy human participants. We examined temporal characteristics of selected hyoid muscles using fine wire intramuscular electromyography (EMG). Thirteen healthy adults were studied using EMG of the anterior belly of digastric (ABD), geniohyoid (GH), sternohyoid (SH), and masseter (MA, with surface electrodes) while ingesting thin liquid, banana, tofu, and cookie (3 trials each). Onset timing was measured from rectified and integrated EMG. Data were analyzed using repeated-measures ANOVA with Bonferroni correction. When drinking thin liquid, MA, GH, and ABD were activated almost simultaneously, but SH was activated later (using GH onset as 0 s, MA -0.07 (-0.20 to 0.17) second [median (interquartile range)]; ABD 0.00 (-0.10 to 0.07) second; SH 0.17 (0.02 to 0.37) second; P<0.01). With solid foods, MA contraction preceded GH and ABD; SH was last and delayed relative to liquid swallows (GH 0 s; MA -0.17 (-0.27 to 0.07) second; ABD 0.00 (-0.03 to 0.03) second; SH 0.37 (0.23 to 0.50) second; P<0.01). The role of the MA differs between solids and liquids so the variation in its timing is expected. The synchronous contraction of GH and ABD was consistent with their role in hyolaryngeal elevation. The SH contracted later with solids, perhaps because if the longer duration of the swallow. The consistent pattern among foods supports the concept of a central pattern generator for pharyngeal swallowing.
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