Mandibular movement and muscle activity during mastication in the guinea pig (Cavia porcellus)

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72 Scopus citations


Optoelectronic analysis of mandibular movement and electromyography (EMG) of masticatory muscles in Cavia porcellus indicate bilateral, unilateral, and gnawing cycles. During bilateral and unilateral cycles, the mandibular tip moves forward, lateral, and down during the lingual phase of the power stroke to bring the teeth into occlusion. EMG activity is generally asymmetric, with the exception of activity of the temporalis muscle during bilateral cycles. During gnawing cycles, the mandible moves in an anteroposterior direction that is opposite that during bilateral and unilateral chew cycles. Bilateral and unilateral cycles of pellets were significantly longer than carrot. With the exception of the width of bilateral cycles, the magnitude of cycle width, length, and height during the mastication of carrots was greater than that during the mastication of pellets. Significant differences exist between EMG durations during mastication of pellets and carrots. The lateral pterygoid displays continuous activity during gnawing cycles. Significant differences also exist in the durations of EMG activity between the working and balancing side during all three cycle types. High level activity of balancing side temporalis and anterior belly of digastric (ABD) during bilateral cycles occurs during rotation and depression of the mandible during the power stroke. The temporalis apparently provides a „braking” or compensatory role during closing and power strokes. Differences between Cavia masticatory patterns and those shown by Rattus and Mesocricetus are apparently due to differences in dental morphology, occlusal relationships, and, possibly, the poorly developed temporalis in Cavia. The large number and wide diversity of rodent groups afford students of mammalian mastication an opportunity to investigate and compare different masticatory specializations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-169
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Morphology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 1981

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Developmental Biology

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