Laplace-based modeling of fiber orientation in the tongue

Arnold D. Gomez, Nahla Elsaid, Maureen L. Stone, Jiachen Zhuo, Jerry L. Prince

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Mechanical modeling of tongue deformation plays a significant role in the study of breathing, swallowing, and speech production. In the absence of internal joints, fiber orientations determine the direction of sarcomeric contraction and have great influence over real and simulated tissue motion. However, subject-specific experimental observations of fiber distribution are difficult to obtain; thus, models of fiber distribution are generally used in mechanical simulations. This paper describes modeling of fiber distribution using solutions of Laplace equations and compares the effectiveness of this approach against tractography from diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging. The experiments included qualitative comparison of streamlines from the fiber model against experimental tractography, as well as quantitative differences between biomechanical simulations focusing in the region near the genioglossus. The model showed good overall agreement in terms of fiber directionality and muscle positioning when compared to subject-specific imaging results and the literature. The angle between the fiber distribution model against tractography in the genioglossus and geniohyoid muscles averaged 22 likely due to experimental noise. However, kinematic responses were similar between simulations with modeled fibers versus experimentally obtained fibers; average discrepancy in surface displacement ranged from 1 to 7 mm, and average strain residual magnitude ranged from 4 × 10 - 3 to 0.2. The results suggest that, for simulation purposes, the modeled fibers can act as a reasonable approximation for the tongue’s fiber distribution. Also, given its agreement with the global tongue anatomy, the approach may be used in model-based reconstruction of displacement tracking and diffusion results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1119-1130
Number of pages12
JournalBiomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018


  • Biomechanical modeling
  • Fiber orientation
  • Magnetic resonance
  • Tongue biomechanics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Mechanical Engineering


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