The influence of stimulus taste and chemesthesis on tongue movement timing in swallowing

J Speech Lang Hear Res. 2012 Feb;55(1):262-75. doi: 10.1044/1092-4388(2011/11-0012). Epub 2011 Dec 22.


Purpose: To explore the influence of taste and trigeminal irritation (chemesthesis) on durational aspects of tongue movement in liquid swallowing, controlling for the influence of perceived taste intensity.

Method: Electromagnetic midsagittal articulography was used to trace tongue movements during discrete liquid swallowing with 5 liquids: water, 3 moderate concentration tastants without odor (sweet, sour, sweet-sour), and a high concentration of citric acid (sour taste plus chemesthesis). Participants were 33 healthy adults in 2 gender-balanced, age-stratified groups (under/over 50). Perceived taste intensity was measured using the Generalized Labeled Magnitude Scale (Bartoshuk, 2000; Bartoshuk et al., 2004). Tongue movement sequencing and durations of the composite tongue movement envelope and component events (rise phase, location of first movement peak, release phase) were calculated.

Results: No obligate sequence of tongue segment movement was observed. Overall durations and the timing of the first movement peak were significantly longer with water than with the moderate concentration of sweet-sour liquid. Perceived taste intensity did not modulate stimulus effects in a significant way. The expected pattern of shorter movement durations with the high concentration of citric acid was not seen.

Conclusions: A chemesthetic-taste stimulus of high citric acid did not influence the durations of tongue movements compared with those seen during the swallowing of moderate concentration tastants and water.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Deglutition / drug effects*
  • Drinking
  • Female
  • Flavoring Agents / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Movement / drug effects*
  • Reference Values
  • Taste / drug effects
  • Taste / physiology*
  • Tongue / drug effects
  • Tongue / physiology*
  • Trigeminal Nerve / drug effects*
  • Trigeminal Nerve / physiology


  • Flavoring Agents