2010 Volume 87 Issue 3 Pages 135-140
Recent studies have suggest that masticatory (chewing) function is useful for maintaining neurocognitive function in the elderly. For example, a reduced ability to masticate, such as that resulting from toothlessness or soft-diet feeding, causes learning and memory deficits in aged animals and pathologic changes in the hippocampus. In addition, occlusal disharmony impairs hippocampal memory processes via chronic stress, and induces similar hippocampal pathology. Chewing, however, rescues stress-induced suppression of long-term potentiation in the hippocampus and the stress-induced impairment of hippocampal-dependent learning. These findings strongly suggest a link between mastication and neurocognitive function.