Differences in fine control of forces generated by the tongue, lips and fingers in humans

Arch Oral Biol. 1998 Jul;43(7):517-23. doi: 10.1016/s0003-9969(98)00042-9.


This study compared the fine control of forces generated by the tongue, lips and fingers in middle-aged adults. The aims were to determine whether (1) the articulatory organs (tongue, lips) and fingers differed in the manner of motor control, (2) force control of the various articulatory organs was similar, and (3) control of forces generated by males was different from that of forces generated by females. The relation among several variables of the ramp-and-hold force contraction and target force level was quantified for the articulatory organs and the fingers in 14 normal individuals (7 males and 7 females). Using visual feedback, participants produced ramp-and-hold compression forces as rapidly and accurately as possible to targets ranging from 0.25 to 2 N. The results showed differences in the profiles of forces generated by the articulatory organs and fingers. In particular, the forefingers were characterized by a greater accuracy of force control and precision of movement, a greater stability of the hold phase, but by slower velocities than the articulatory organs. Motor control of the lower lip differed from that of the upper lip and tongue. Mostly, the lower lip was characterized by a greater precision of contraction, faster development of the force, and greater stability of the hold phase than the upper lip and tongue. Gender was a distinguishing factor in the force task; males were able to produce forces with higher velocities and greater precision than females.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Analog-Digital Conversion
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Facial Muscles / physiology
  • Female
  • Fingers / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Lip / physiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology*
  • Numerical Analysis, Computer-Assisted
  • Regression Analysis
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Speech / physiology
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Tongue / physiology*
  • Transducers