Neurophysiology of swallowing: Effects of age and bolus type

Ianessa A. Humbert, Michelle E. Fitzgerald, Donald G. McLaren, Sterling Johnson, Eva Porcaro, Kris Kosmatka, Jacqueline Hind, Jo Anne Robbins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This study examined age-related changes in swallowing from an integrated biomechanical and functional imaging perspective in order to more comprehensively characterize changes in swallowing associated with age. We examined swallowing-related fMRI brain activity and videoflouroscopic biomechanics of three bolus types (saliva, water and barium) in 12 young and 11 older adults. We found that age-related neurophysiological changes in swallowing are evident. The group of older adults recruited more cortical regions than young adults, including the pericentral gyri and inferior frontal gyrus pars opercularis and pars triangularis (primarily right-sided). Saliva swallows elicited significantly higher BOLD responses in regions important for swallowing compared to water and barium. In separate videofluoroscopy sessions, we obtained durational measures of supine swallowing. The older cohort had significantly longer delays before the onset of the pharyngeal swallow response and increased residue of ingested material in the pharynx. These findings suggest that older adults without neurological insult elicit more cortical involvement to complete the same swallowing tasks as younger adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)982-991
Number of pages10
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Neurophysiology of swallowing: Effects of age and bolus type'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this

    Humbert, I. A., Fitzgerald, M. E., McLaren, D. G., Johnson, S., Porcaro, E., Kosmatka, K., Hind, J., & Robbins, J. A. (2009). Neurophysiology of swallowing: Effects of age and bolus type. NeuroImage, 44(3), 982-991.