Floor-of-the-Mouth Muscle Function Analysis Using Dynamic Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Proc SPIE Int Soc Opt Eng. 2021 Feb;11596:115961P. doi: 10.1117/12.2581484. Epub 2021 Feb 15.


To advance our understanding of speech motor control, it is essential to image and assess dynamic functional patterns of internal structures caused by the complex muscle anatomy inside the human tongue. Speech pathologists are investigating into new tools that help assessment of internal tongue muscle's cooperative mechanics on top of their anatomical differences. Previous studies using dynamic magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the tongue revealed that tongue muscles tend to function in different groups during speech, especially the floor-of-the-mouth (FOM) muscles. In this work, we developed a method that analyzed the unique functional pattern of the FOM muscles in speech. First, four-dimensional motion fields of the whole tongue were computed using tagged MRI. Meanwhile, a statistical atlas of the tongue was constructed to form a common space for subject comparison, while a manually delineated mask of internal tongue muscles was used to separate individual muscle's motion. Then we computed four-dimensional motion correlation between each muscle and the FOM muscle group. Finally, dynamic correlation of different muscle groups was compared and evaluated. We used data from a study group of nineteen subjects including both healthy controls and oral cancer patients. Results revealed that most internal tongue muscles coordinated in a similar pattern in speech while the FOM muscles followed a unique pattern that helped supporting the tongue body and pivoting its rotation. The proposed method can help provide further interpretation of clinical observations and speech motor control from an imaging point of view.

Keywords: MRI; Tongue function; atlas; correlation; floor-of-the-mouth muscles; motion; speech; tagged.