The cortical topography of human swallowing musculature in health and disease

Nat Med. 1996 Nov;2(11):1217-24. doi: 10.1038/nm1196-1217.


Because no detailed information exists regarding the topographic representation of swallowing musculature on the human cerebral cortex in health or disease, we used transcranial magnetic stimulation to study the cortical topography of human oral, pharyngeal and esophageal musculature in 20 healthy individuals and the topography of pharyngeal musculature in two stroke patients, one with and one without dysphagia. Our results demonstrate that swallowing musculature is discretely and somatotopically represented on the motor and premotor cortex of both hemispheres but displays interhemispheric asymmetry, independent of handedness. Following stroke, dysphagia appeared to be associated with smaller pharyngeal representation on the intact hemisphere, which increases in size with recovery of swallowing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Deglutition / physiology*
  • Electromyography
  • Esophagus / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Hemiplegia / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Muscle, Smooth / physiopathology*
  • Pharynx / physiopathology
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Signal Transduction
  • Tomography Scanners, X-Ray Computed
  • Twins, Monozygotic