Tags: brain | areas | associated | swallowing

What Brain Areas Are Associated With Swallowing?

Monday, 15 October 2018 10:15 PM

Most people give little thought to swallowing. But this complex action controlled by the brain is an essential life function, delivering food to the digestive system while keeping the airway clear and safe.

The brainstem — the lower part of the brain that includes the midbrain, pons and medulla oblongata — is where primitive functions, including swallowing, are controlled, the American Association of Neurological Surgeons noted. Specifically, the medulla oblongata controls swallowing.

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Cranial nerves originating in the brainstem are behind primitive functions, with swallowing being attributed to glossopharyngeal and vagus cranial nerves.

Stroke, acquired brain damage, and neuro-degenerative illnesses can lead to difficulties swallowing, also called dysphagia, according to the journal PLOS One. Understanding how the brain regions connect during swallowing could help decipher the mechanism of swallowing.

Stimulating the cerebral cortex has been found to evoke swallowing in different animals, with primates swallowing in response to stimulation in the dorsolateral and anterolateral frontal cortex, according to a 2006 report in Nature. Both hemispheres are believed to be involved in this process, with pathways mapped to the brainstem. While damage to these pathways won't necessarily destroy swallowing, it can cause considerable difficulty in the process.

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New technologies are shedding light on how the brain controls swallowing, and providing hope for treatments that may improve this function after cortical injury, the report said.

There is debate about whether the location of brain lesions may be a factor in swallowing difficulties, according to a 2016 study published in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences. The study found a link between right hemisphere lesions and dysphagia, concluding that, among stroke patients, the right hemisphere was involved more than left hemisphere in dysphagic patients.

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This article is for information only and is not intended as medical advice. Talk with your doctor about your specific health and medical needs.

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Most people give little thought to swallowing. But this complex action controlled by the brain is an essential life function, delivering food to the digestive system while keeping the airway clear and safe.
brain, areas, associated, swallowing
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2018-15-15
Monday, 15 October 2018 10:15 PM
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