Functional connectivity of the cortical swallowing network in humans

Arash Babaei, B. Douglas Ward, Robert M. Siwiec, Shahryar Ahmad, Mark Kern, Andrew Nencka, Shi Jiang Li, Reza Shaker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Scopus citations


Introduction: Coherent fluctuations of blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) signal have been referred to as "functional connectivity" (FC). Our aim was to systematically characterize FC of underlying neural network involved in swallowing, and to evaluate its reproducibility and modulation during rest or task performance. Methods: Activated seed regions within known areas of the cortical swallowing network (CSN) were independently identified in 16 healthy volunteers. Subjects swallowed using a paradigm driven protocol, and the data analyzed using an event-related technique. Then, in the same 16 volunteers, resting and active state data were obtained for 540. s in three conditions: 1) swallowing task; 2) control visual task; and 3) resting state; all scans were performed twice. Data was preprocessed according to standard FC pipeline. We determined the correlation coefficient values of member regions of the CSN across the three aforementioned conditions and compared between two sessions using linear regression. Average FC matrices across conditions were then compared. Results: Swallow activated twenty-two positive BOLD and eighteen negative BOLD regions distributed bilaterally within cingulate, insula, sensorimotor cortex, prefrontal and parietal cortices. We found that: 1) Positive BOLD regions were highly connected to each other during all test conditions while negative BOLD regions were tightly connected among themselves; 2) Positive and negative BOLD regions were anti-correlated at rest and during task performance; 3) Across all three test conditions, FC among the regions was reproducible (r>0.96, p<10-5); and 4) The FC of sensorimotor region to other regions of the CSN increased during swallowing scan. Conclusions: 1) Swallow activated cortical substrates maintain a consistent pattern of functional connectivity; 2) FC of sensorimotor region is significantly higher during swallow scan than that observed during a non-swallow visual task or at rest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-44
Number of pages12
StatePublished - Aug 1 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Deglutition
  • Reproducibility
  • Resting connectivity
  • Seed based

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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  • Cite this

    Babaei, A., Ward, B. D., Siwiec, R. M., Ahmad, S., Kern, M., Nencka, A., Li, S. J., & Shaker, R. (2013). Functional connectivity of the cortical swallowing network in humans. NeuroImage, 76, 33-44.