Variation in the timing and frequency of sucking and swallowing over an entire feeding session in the infant pig Sus scrofa

Estela M. Gierbolini-Norat, Shaina D. Holman, Peng Ding, Shubham Bakshi, Rebecca Z. German

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Feeding is a rhythmic behavior that consists of several component cycle types. How the timing of these cycles changes over a complete feeding sequence is not well known. To test the hypothesis that cycle frequency/duration changes as a function of time spent feeding, we examined complete feeding sequences in six infant pigs, using EMG of mylohyoid and thyrohyoid as cycle markers. We measured the instantaneous frequency of sucking and of swallowing cycles in 19 sequences. Each sequence contained three qualitatively distinctive phases of sucking frequency. Phase 1 started with cycles at a very high frequency and quickly dropped to a more constant level with low variation, which characterized phase 2. Phase 3 had a steady level of frequency but was interspersed with a number of high- or low-frequency cycles. Each phase differed from the others in patterns of within-phase variation and among-phase variation. Phase 2 had the least variation, and phase 3 had the largest range of frequencies. The number of sucks per swallow also differed among phases. These patterns, which characterize normative feeding, could indicate a physiologic basis in satiation. In human infant clinical studies, where data collection is often limited, these results indicated the utility of collecting data in different phases. Finally, these results can be used as a template or pattern with which to assess clinically compromised infants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)475-482
Number of pages8
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2014


  • Animal model
  • Deglutition
  • Deglutition disorders
  • Feeding
  • Infant
  • Pediatric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Speech and Hearing


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