In Vivo Evaluation of the Mechanical and Viscoelastic Properties of the Rat Tongue

J Vis Exp. 2017 Jul 6;(125):56006. doi: 10.3791/56006.


The tongue is a highly innervated and vascularized muscle hydrostat on the floor of the mouth of most vertebrates. Its primary functions include supporting mastication and deglutition, as well as taste-sensing and phonetics. Accordingly, the strength and volume of the tongue can impact the ability of vertebrates to accomplish basic activities such as feeding, communicating, and breathing. Human patients with sleep apnea have enlarged tongues, characterized by reduced muscle tone and increased intramuscular fat that can be visualized and quantified by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The abilities to measure force generation and viscoelastic properties of the tongue constitute important tools for obtaining functional information to correlate with imaging data. Here, we present techniques for measuring tongue force production in anesthetized Zucker rats via electrical stimulation of the hypoglossal nerves and for determining the viscoelastic properties of the tongue by applying passive Lissajous force/deformation curves.

Publication types

  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Hypoglossal Nerve / physiology*
  • Models, Animal
  • Rats
  • Tongue / anatomy & histology*