Frontal plane mandibular movements and the associated superficial masseter EMG signals of six 39-day-old rats were simultaneously recorded and digitized at a rate of 1 kHz by the optoelectronic method in order to investigate the loci and attributes of masseteric silent periods during mastication of hard (pellets) and soft (sluny) food items. The marked silent periods, defined as cessations of EMG activity during the slow-close (SC) phase of single chewing cycles, were analyzed for their (1) onset and offset durations relative to physiological centric occlusion (PCO), (2) frontal vertical (FV) and frontal horizontal (FH) loci relative to PCO, and (3) FV and FH velocities and accelerations of masticatory mandibular movements in relation to PCO. The start (SSP) and end (ESP) of silent period loci relative to PCO moved superiorly as sequences of pellet mastication progressed. All silent period attributes during slurry consumption were significantly different (p ≤ 0.01) from pellet attributes: Sluny SSP and ESP loci were closer to PCO than were pellet loci; durations of silent period loci during pellet mastication were more variable than were slurry durations. FV distance and velocity values for pellets were greater than slurry values; FV accelerations during slurry mastication were greater than with pellets. Although FV velocities during both pellet and slurry mastication decreased at ESP relative to SSP values, their FH velocities at ESP actually increased relative to SSP velocities. Loci attributes of EMG silent periods appeared largely dependent on the consistency of the food item being masticated.
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