FMRI study of brain activity elicited by oral parafunctional movements

K. E. Byrd, L. M. Romito, M. Dzemidzic, D. Wong, T. M. Talavage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

28 Scopus citations


Parafunctional masticatory activity, such as the tooth clenching and grinding that is associated with bruxism, is encountered by clinicians in many disciplines, including dentistry, neurology and psychiatry. Despite this, little is known about the neurological basis for these activities. To identify the brain network engaged in such complex oromotor activity, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to elucidate the brain activation patterns of 20 individuals (10 males and 10 females, mean ± s.d. age of 26·3 ± 4·1 years) with (parafunctional, PFx group, 5M5F) and without (normal functional, NFx group, 5 M5F) self-reported parafunctional grinding and clenching habits during clenching and grinding tasks. Subject group classification was based on: (i) self-reported history, (ii) clinical examination, (iii) evaluation of dental casts and (iv) positive responses to the temporomandibular disorder (TMD) History Questionnaire [Dworkin and LeResche, Journal of Craniomandibular Disorders, (1992) 6:301]. While subjects performed these oromotor tasks, each wore a custom-designed oral appliance minimizing head motion during imaging. Mean per cent signal changes showed significant between group differences in motor cortical (supplementary motor area, sensorimotor cortex and rolandic operculum) and subcortical (caudate) regions. Supplementary motor area data suggest that motor planning and initiation, particularly during the act of clenching, are less prominent in individuals with oromotor parafunctional behaviours. The overall extent of activated areas was reduced in subjects with self-reported parafunctional masticatory activity compared with the controls. This study's methodology and findings provide an initial step in understanding the neurological basis of parafunctional masticatory activities that are relevant for therapeutic research applications of temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders and associated comorbidities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)346-361
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Oral Rehabilitation
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2009


  • Brain mapping
  • Bruxism
  • Clenching
  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging
  • Grinding
  • Mastication
  • Movements
  • Oromotor
  • Parafunctional

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dentistry(all)

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