Structural brain feature is associated with changes of masticatory performance in healthy elderly people: Evidence from longitudinal neuroimaging research over two years

Yu Ting Chan, Chia Shu Lin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Human neuroimaging studies have revealed the association between brain structure and masticatory function. However, the majority of the studies adopted a cross-sectional design, which hardly reveals the change in masticatory function and brain structure between different timepoints, and the dynamical association between changes in masticatory function and changes in brain structure has not been elucidated. Objective: With a longitudinal design, we assessed the association between changes in masticatory performance (MP) and regional brain volume. Methods: Twenty-two elderly participants received assessments of the number of missing teeth and MP (via colour-changeable chewing gum) when they entered the study (i.e. the initial stage, T0), approximately 6 months later (T0.5), and approximately 1–2 years later (T1). Difficulty of food intake was assessed using a questionnaire. The participants received magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) at T0 and T1. The brain volume of the motor-related area was estimated using FreeSurfer for MRI data. The associations between different stages were analysed using Spearman's rho correlation coefficients. Results: (1) Individually, a smaller volume of right primary motor cortex at T0 was associated with increased MP from T0 to T1, suggesting the brain's role in changing oral functions; (2) higher MP at T0 was associated with an increased volume of the left superior frontal cortex from T0 to T1p, suggesting a potential effect on brain plasticity, and (3) increased difficulty to eat was associated with decrease MP but not brain volume of motor-related area. Conclusions: The preliminary findings revealed a complicated pattern of structural brain features and masticatory function in elderly people, and either the hypothesis that the brain predisposes masticatory function or the hypothesis that mastication reshapes the brain is oversimplified.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)526-535
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Oral Rehabilitation
Volume51
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2024

Keywords

  • Oral health
  • aging
  • eating
  • longitudinal studies
  • magnetic resonance imaging

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Structural brain feature is associated with changes of masticatory performance in healthy elderly people: Evidence from longitudinal neuroimaging research over two years'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this