Genioglossal response to mechanical vibrations of the mandible and the submandibular muscles

Ferhat Erdogan, Mesut Sahin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The extrinsic tongue muscles are activated in coordination with pharyngeal muscles to dilate the airways as needed during breathing. The genioglossus (GG) activity is known to be modulated by several reflexes evoked via the mechanoreceptors of the upper airways. The primary objective of this paper was to investigate the effectiveness of activating these reflex pathways using mechanical stimulation of the mandible or the submandibular muscles. In eight healthy subjects, 3-s long, 5-mm vertical mechanical vibrations were delivered at 8 and 12 Hz to the lower jaw in a seated position, while the GG EMG was recorded using a custom-made sublingual electrode, along with the activity of the masseter (MS) and mylohyoid (MH). All three muscle activities were significantly higher during stimulation compared with the baseline (P 0.02), and the increase was larger at 12 Hz versus 8 Hz (P 0.02). All three muscle responses had components that synchronized with the mechanical stimuli, but those of MS were much more strongly phase-locked to the vibrational cycle. In 10 healthy subjects, we also applied mechanical vibrations to the submandibular muscles at three different stimulation intensities, while subjects were lying in a supine position. The GG activity increased significantly above the baseline (P 0.026) in 9 out of 10 subjects, and the elevated activity persisted after termination of the stimulus for a few seconds. The results demonstrate that GG muscle responses can be evoked with mechanical vibrations applied to the lower jaw or the submandibular muscles in healthy subjects during wakefulness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-21
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine


  • EMG analysis
  • Genioglossus
  • Jaw-tongue reflex
  • Tonic vibration reflex
  • Upper airways


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