Surface Electromyographic Activity of the Masseter Muscle During Regular and Effortful Saliva Swallows: A Preliminary Study

Mariana M. Bahia, Soren Y. Lowell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Biofeedback is a critical component in motor learning of new, complex behaviors such as modifications to swallowing. Surface electromyography (sEMG) is a commonly employed biofeedback tool in swallowing management to assess muscle activity patterns, determine amplitude and duration of swallowing, and train swallowing strategies such as the effortful swallow (EFS) maneuver. The EFS can potentially change multiple physiological components of the swallowing process such as pressure generation and movement of biomechanical structures. The purposes of this study were to determine whether the masseter muscle could differentiate a normal swallow (NS) from an EFS and whether there was a relationship between perceived muscle effort used to swallow and objective measures of muscle activity. Twenty healthy young adults participated in this study. Masseter sEMG peak amplitude and duration were measured across five regular saliva swallows and five effortful saliva swallows. Additionally, participants rated their perceived swallowing effort using a visual analog scale (VAS). Two swallowing conditions, NSs and EFSs were compared with hierarchical models, and repeated measures correlation was used to determine the relationships between the VAS and sEMG peak amplitude. Participants produced swallows with greater masseter sEMG peak amplitude and duration during the EFS. Moreover, a positive correlation was identified between perceived swallowing effort and masseter sEMG peak amplitude. These findings support the potential use of the masseter muscle to differentiate NSs from EFSs and implement the VAS during therapy for tracking patients' performance, particularly in settings with limited access to sEMG.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)231-240
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2024


  • Biofeedback
  • Effortful swallow
  • Masseter muscle
  • Surface electromyography
  • Swallowing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Speech and Hearing


Dive into the research topics of 'Surface Electromyographic Activity of the Masseter Muscle During Regular and Effortful Saliva Swallows: A Preliminary Study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this