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The human tongue slows down to speak: muscle fibers of the human tongue.
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Anat Rec (Hoboken) 2013 Oct; 296(10):1615-27
Authors: Ira Sanders, Liancai Mu, Asif Amirali, Hungxi Su, Stanislaw Sobotka
Alice and David Jurist Institute for Biomedical Research, Hackensack University Medical Center, Hackensack, New Jersey.
Little is known about the specializations of human tongue muscles. In this study, myofibrillar adenosine triphosphatase (mATPase) histochemical staining was used to study the percentage and distribution of slow twitch muscle fibers (slow MFs) within tongue muscles of four neurologically normal human adults and specimens from a 2-year-old human, a newborn human, an adult with idiopathic Parkinson's disease (IPD), and a macaque monkey. The average percentage of slow MFs in adult and the 2-year-old muscle specimens was 54%, the IPD was 45%, while the neonatal human (32%) and macaque monkey (28%) had markedly fewer slow MFs. In contrast, the tongue muscles of the rat and cat have been reported to have no slow MFs. There was a marked spatial gradient in the distribution of slow MFs with the highest percentages found medially and posteriorly. Normal adult tongue muscles were found to have a variety of uniquely specialized features including MF-type grouping (usually found in neuromuscular disorders), large amounts of loose connective tissue, and short branching MFs. In summary, normal adult human tongue muscles have by far the highest proportion of slow MFs of any mammalian tongue studied to date. Moreover, adult human tongue muscles have multiple unique anatomic features. As the tongue shape changes that are seen during speech articulation are unique to humans, we hypothesize that the large proportion of slow MFs and the anatomical specializations observed in the adult human tongue have evolved to perform these movements. Anat Rec, 296:1615-1627, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
PMID: 23929762 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]