Kinematic Description of Chewing Development

E Wilson, J Green, G Weismer


The goal of this proposed research project is to quantitatively describe developmental changes in jaw performance for chewing. Kinematic-based studies on chewing development are relatively absent and studies of muscle activity and patterns are limited in number. Most of the existing descriptions of early chewing development rely on clinical impressions (Morris & Klein, 2000). This investigation will provide an empirically-based description of early chewing development. Jaw movements associated with early chewing will be studied in typically-developing infants ranging in age between 4 and 24 months using a 3D computerized movement capture system. The resultant jaw traces will be subjected to four complementary analytic techniques to provide quantitative descriptions of the performance characteristics and stability of chewing patterns within and across specific ages. The results will not only advance knowledge regarding the development of feeding skills, but will provide a normative baseline from which to gauge the severity of feeding disorders. Further, these data, combined with existing data on early speech movements, may also be useful for speculating about current claims regarding the stability of chewing and its relationship to speech development.