Neurophysiological monitoring of the orofacial system in premature and term infants

S. M. Barlow, A. Dusick, D. S. Finan, S. Coltart, A. Biswas, K. J. Flaherty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Premature birth is associated with a variety of medical and developmental conditions that may disrupt motor skill acquisition. Many infants born preterm in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) exhibit disordered patterning of suck, aversive reactions to somatosensory inputs, and subsequently poor feeding ability. The ability of infants who are born prematurely and brain damaged to adapt oromotor skills in disorganized, depriving environments is dramatically compromised. To date, neurophysiological assessment of the preterm neonatal oromotor system has been very limited. The current report details the efficacy of a new and noninvasive technology known as the actifier to characterize the dynamics and neurophysiology of the orofacial apparatus during nonnutritive suck (NNS) in the NICU. Results thus far indicate neonates manifest significant changes in NNS dynamics as a function of maturation and experience, including longer, stronger, and more uniform suck burst patterns. A significant ontologic trend exists for the temporal organization of the mechanically evoked perioral reflex. These findings provide the first electrophysiological demonstration of modulation between cortical and bulbar pathways in neonates who are born preterm during centrally patterned oromotor behavior and demonstrate the feasibility of the actifier in the NICU setting for quantitative assessment of sensorimotor performance and development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)221-238
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Medical Speech-Language Pathology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Rehabilitation
  • Speech and Hearing

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