Derivation of a finite-element model of lingual deformation during swallowing from the mechanics of mesoscale myofiber tracts obtained by MRI

Srboljub M. Mijailovich, Boban Stojanovic, Milos Kojic, Alvin Liang, Van J. Wedeen, Richard J. Gilbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


To demonstrate the relationship between lingual myoarchitecture and mechanics during swallowing, we performed a finite-element (FE) simulation of lingual deformation employing mesh aligned with the vector coordinates of myofiber tracts obtained by diffusion tensor imaging with tractography in humans. Material properties of individual elements were depicted in terms of Hill's three-component phenomenological model, assuming that the FE mesh was composed of anisotropic muscle and isotropic connective tissue. Moreover, the mechanical model accounted for elastic constraints by passive and active elements from the superior and inferior directions and the effect of out-of-plane muscles and connective tissue. Passive bolus effects were negligible. Myofiber tract activation was simulated over 500 ms in 1-ms steps following lingual tip association with the hard palate and incorporated specifically the accommodative and propulsive phases of the swallow. Examining the displacement field, active and passive muscle stress, elemental stretch, and strain rate relative to changes of global shape, we demonstrate that lingual reconfiguration during these swallow phases is characterized by (in sequence) the following: 1) lingual tip elevation and shortening in the anterior-posterior direction; 2) inferior displacement related to hyoglossus contraction at its inferior-most position; and 3) dominant clockwise rotation related to regional contraction of the genioglossus and contraction of the hyoglossus following anterior displacement. These simulations demonstrate that lingual deformation during the indicated phases of swallowing requires temporally patterned activation of intrinsic and extrinsic muscles and delineate a method to ascertain the mechanics of normal and pathological swallowing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1500-1514
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2010


  • Diffusion tensor imaging tractography
  • Hill' threeelement model
  • Multiscale model
  • Muscle mechanics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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