Analysis of Mammalian Masticatory Mechanisms: Progress and Problems



Direct measurement of bone movements and muscle activation in mammalian mastication is now possible. Early results indicate that the patterns are quite variable and depart from the stereotyped versions sometimes reported. Most mammals masticate unilaterally; only a few chew simultaneously on both sides. Orbital movements are complex and three-dimensional. While most muscles are active during the reduction phase, it is difficult to define phases by sharp transitions of activity. The fascicles of pinnate muscles differ in fiber architecture and physiology; they tend to function at different times and with distinct mechanical advantages.

Interspecific diversity and marked responses to food consistency and size, still preclude generalizations. Improved methods for comparisons among orbits, for correlation of forces and excursions, and automated correlations of movements, forces and electromyograms are beginning to be available and need to be more generallv applied to analysis.