J Alzheimers Dis. 2011;26(2):347-54.
Frontal cortical activation is elicited when subjects have been instructed not to initiate a sensorimotor task. The goal of this preliminary fMRI study was to examine BOLD response to a "Do Not Swallow" instruction (an intentional "off-state") in the context of other swallowing tasks in 3 groups of participants (healthy young, healthy old, and early Alzheimer's disease (AD)). Overall, the older group had larger, bilaterally active clusters in the cortex, including the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex during the intentional swallowing off-state; this region is commonly active in response inhibition studies. Disease-related differences were evident where the AD group had significantly greater BOLD response in the insula/operculum than the old. These findings have significant clinical implications for control of swallowing across the age span and in neurodegenerative disease. Greater activation in the insula/operculum for the AD group supports previous studies where this region is associated with initiating swallowing. The AD group may have required more effort to "turn off" swallowing centers to reach the intentional swallowing off-state.