Have you ever thought why it is that your tongue doesn't get bitten by the teeth even during those times when you do not pay much attention to chewing? Turns out it is the brain that keeps your tongue from getting bitten. Several interconnected neurons inside the brain that are responsible for co-ordinating movement of the tongue as well as jaw can keep the tongue from getting in the way of the teeth when the mouth is in the process of chewing.
Chewing a type of activity that does one can be consciously controlled, but it is also possible for one to stop paying attention to it. During such times, the interconnected neurons inside the brain do the controlling bit for the person. Chewing requires an interplay between the tongue as well as the jaw; in this, the tongue positions the food between the teeth and then moves out of the way every time the jaw comes closer to clamp down and grind the food.The exact nature of the connections i.e. which premotor neurons connect to which motoneurons had not been established.
The researchers used a special type of rabies virus for the study. This virus was used to trace the origins of the chewing movements in mice. They also found that a group of premotor neurons connected to the motoneurons simultaneously and regulated the opening of the jaw and those that are related to the tongue protrusion. The researchers had also found another group that connects to both the motorneurons that regulate closing of jaws and those that are responsible for tongue retraction.
A general feature of the motor system may be that of using shared premotor neurons to control different muscles.
The study was published in the journal eLife.
Article source: Firstpost
Image source: Getty
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