Effect of tongue position on postural stability during quiet standing in healthy young males

Somatosens Mot Res. 2015;32(3):183-6. doi: 10.3109/08990220.2015.1043120.


Background and aims: Role of the neck and jaw sensory motor system in control of body balance has been established. Tongue is an integral part of jaw sensory motor system and helps in execution of purposeful and precise motor tasks like eating, drinking and speaking. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the possible effects of tongue position on the postural control system.

Materials and method: We compared the mean center of gravity (COG) velocity during quiet standing on an unstable surface with eyes closed during two test conditions: (i) with habitual jaw resting position and (ii) with instructed tongue positioned against the upper incisors. One hundred and sixteen normal healthy male subjects (average age 31.56 ± 8.51 years and height 170.86 ± 7.26 cm) participated in the study. Their COG velocity (deg/s) was measured using the NeuroCom® Balance Master version 8.5.0 (Clackamas, OR, USA).

Results and conclusions: The results show that COG velocity decreased significantly while tongue was positioned against upper incisors in comparison to the habitual jaw resting position. Our findings suggest that the tongue positioning can modulate postural control mechanisms. Tongue positioning against the upper incisors can enhance the postural stability during upright standing on an unstable surface and in the absence of vision in healthy young adults. Our findings can be of value for evaluation and rehabilitation protocols for postural control dysfunction.

Keywords: Balance; COG velocity; postural stability; tongue position.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Gravitation
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Postural Balance / physiology*
  • Posture / physiology*
  • Proprioception / physiology*
  • Tongue / innervation*
  • Tongue / physiology
  • Young Adult