The trigeminal circuits responsible for chewing

Int Rev Neurobiol. 2011;97:77-98. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-385198-7.00004-7.


Mastication is a vital function that ensures that ingested food is broken down into pieces and prepared for digestion. This review outlines the masticatory behavior in terms of the muscle activation patterns and jaw movements and gives an overview of the organization and function of the trigeminal neuronal circuits that are known to take part in the generation and control of oro-facial motor functions. The basic pattern of rhythmic jaw movements produced during mastication is generated by a Central Pattern Generator (CPG) located in the pons and medulla. Neurons within the CPG have intrinsic properties that produce a rhythmic activity, but the output of these neurons is modified by inputs that descend from the higher centers of the brain, and by feedback from sensory receptors, in order to constantly adapt the movement to the food properties.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Afferent Pathways / physiology
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Jaw / physiology
  • Mastication / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Trigeminal Nerve / physiology*
  • Trigeminal Nuclei / cytology
  • Trigeminal Nuclei / physiology*