Differentiation of Bolus Texture During Deglutition via High-Density Surface Electromyography: A Pilot Study

Gladys Ornelas, Hassler Bueno Garcia, David J. Bracken, Kristen Linnemeyer-Risser, Todd P. Coleman, Philip A. Weissbrod

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Swallowing is a complex neuromuscular task. There is limited spatiotemporal data on normative surface electromyographic signal during swallow, particularly across standard textures. We hypothesize the pattern of electromyographic signal of the anterior neck varies cranio-caudally, that laterality can be evaluated, and categorization of bolus texture can be differentiated by high-density surface electromyography (HDsEMG) through signal analysis. Methods: An HDsEMG grid of 20 electrodes captured electromyographic activity in eight healthy adult subjects across 240 total swallows. Participants swallowed five standard textures: saliva, thin liquid, puree, mixed consistency, and dry solid. Data were bandpass filtered, underwent functional alignment of signal, and then placed into binary classifier receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves. Muscular activity was visualized by creating two-dimensional EMG heat maps. Results: Signal analysis results demonstrated a positive correlation between signal amplitude and bolus texture. Greater differences of amplitude in the cranial most region of the array when compared to the caudal most region were noted in all subjects. Lateral comparison of the array revealed symmetric power levels across all subjects and textures. ROC curves demonstrated the ability to correctly classify textures within subjects in 6 of 10 texture comparisons. Conclusion: This pilot study suggests that utilizing HDsEMG during deglutition can noninvasively differentiate swallows of varying texture noninvasively. This may prove useful in future diagnostic and behavioral swallow applications. Level of Evidence: 4 Laryngoscope, 133:2695–2703, 2023.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2695-2703
Number of pages9
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • EMG
  • electrophysiology
  • high-density surface electromyography
  • laryngeal electromyography
  • surface electromyography
  • swallow

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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