Laboratory rats were acutely implanted with an electrode array composed of eight independently controllable contacts applied to ventral and dorsal aspects of the left and right hypoglossal nerves (HGNs) and their branches. Bipolar intramuscular electromyographic (EMG) electrodes were implanted into the left and right genioglossus, hyoglossus and styloglossus muscles to identify which muscles were activated during stimulation via the contacts. Elicited movements, including changes in the position of the tongue and in the size and the shape of the airway, were documented video-graphically through a surgery microscope and an endoscope. Constant current electrical stimulation activated various combinations of electrode contacts and the stimulation patterns were correlated with corresponding oral movements, airway sizes, and EMG activities. Results demonstrate that graded responses and differential activation of the various tongue muscles are achievable by stimulation of specific contacts in the electrode array. These effects are interpreted to result from the targeted activation of regions of the nerve lying under and between the electrodes. Further testing established that the muscle responses elicited by unilateral electrical stimulation with the present approach can be smoothly graded, that the muscle responses resulted in opening of the airway and could be reliably maintained for long durations.
Meadows, P. M., Whitehead, M. C., & Zaidi, F. N. (2014). Effects of targeted activation of tongue muscles on oropharyngeal patency in the rat. Journal of the Neurological Sciences, 346(1–2), 178–193. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jns.2014.08.020