Transition from suckling to drinking at weaning: a kinematic and electromyographic study in miniature pigs

J Exp Zool. 1998 Apr 1;280(5):327-43. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1097-010x(19980401)280:5<327::aid-jez2>;2-q.


The movements of the tongue, hyoid, and jaw were recorded cineradiographically in preweaning pigs as they suckled bariumized milk from a veterinary teat or drank it from a bowl. The movements were quantified by measuring the X, Y coordinates of radioopaque markers embedded in the tongue and attached to both jaws and to the hyoid. EMG activity in masseter, anterior digastric, geniohyoid, genioglossus, hyoglossus, sternohyoid, stylohyoid, and omohyoid muscles was recorded synchronously with cineradiography at 100 frames/sec. In both suckling and drinking, the movements were characterized by minimal movements of the jaw and hyoid but extensive movements of the tongue. In suckling, the movements were largely confined to the midposterior part of the tongue. A seal was formed between the posterior tongue and soft palate while a depression formed in the mid-tongue; this was associated with fluid moving into the depression probably because of a reduced intraoral pressure. The depression was associated with increased EMG activity in the genioglossus muscle and overlapping activity in digastric, geniohyoid, hyoglossus, and sternohyoid muscles. In drinking cycles, significant movement occurred in all parts of the tongue; milk ingestion was associated with tongue movements that combined elements characteristic both of suckling (mid-tongue depression with a posterior seal) and of lapping (extensive anteroposterior movements within the tongue itself). In drinking, compared to suckling, there was a major reduction in EMG activity in masseter, digastric, geniohyoid, and sternohyoid muscles. After milk had accumulated in the valleculae, swallows usually occurred in every other cycle during suckling and in every third or fourth cycle during drinking. The emptying of the valleculae was an event that was embedded in the early jaw-opening phase of an otherwise normal suckling or drinking cycle. Emptying of the valleculae was associated with posteriorly directed movement of the back of the tongue and increased EMG activity in hyoglossus, styloglossus, and omohyoid muscles. No differences were noted in the kinematics associated with swallowing in the two activities, but, in the normalized and averaged EMG data, there were significant differences in the timing of genioglossus activity and in the relative balance of hyoglossal and stylohyoid activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Suckling
  • Barium
  • Drinking Behavior / physiology*
  • Electromyography
  • Facial Muscles / physiology*
  • Jaw / physiology*
  • Masticatory Muscles / physiology*
  • Milk
  • Movement
  • Posture
  • Sucking Behavior / physiology*
  • Swine
  • Swine, Miniature
  • Tongue / physiology
  • Weaning*


  • Barium