A functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)-compatible fiber-optic bend sensor was investigated to assess whether the device could be used effectively to monitor opening and closing of the jaw during an fMRI experiment at 3 T. In contrast to surface electromyography, a bend sensor fixed to the chin of the participant is fast and easy to use and is not affected by strong electromagnetic fields. Bend sensor recordings are characterized by high validity (compared with concurrent video recordings of mouth opening) and high reliability (comparing two independent measurements). The results of this study indicate that a bend sensor is able to record the opening and closing of the jaw associated with different overt speech conditions (producing the utterances /a/, /pa/, /pataka/) and the opening of the mouth without speech production. Data post-processing such as filtering was not necessary. There are several potential applications for bend sensor recordings of speech-related jaw movements. First, bend sensor recordings are a valuable tool to assess behavioral performance, such as response latencies, accuracies, and completion times, which is particularly important in children, seniors, or patients with various neurological or psychiatric conditions. Second, the timing information provided by bend sensor data may improve the predicted hemodynamic response that is used for fMRI analysis based on the general linear model (GLM). Third, bend sensor recordings may be included in GLM analyses not for statistical contrast purposes, but as a covariate of no interest, accounting for part of the data variance to model fMRI artifacts due to motion outside the field of view.
Keywords: articulation; bend sensor; functional magnetic resonance imaging; oro-facial movement; speech production.