NSSR Basic Science Lab


Dr. Plowman utilizes small animal models (rat and mouse) to study underlying mechanisms mediating oral motor function in both healthy systems and in neurologic disease. Pig, rabbit and sheep animal models are also utilized by Dr. Plowman in external NSSR collaborations. These studies have investigated the novel use of myoblasts (muscle stem cells) to treat the damaged tongue and to determine the geomorphometric configuration of the swallowing tract. The use of animal models affords the ability to investigate normal central and peripheral processes of the upper aerodigestive tract and responses to specific experimental treatments in disease models not possible in humans. Currently basic science collaborations are with studying novel therapeutic interventions aimed at restoring lingual function in Pompe’s disease with Dr. David Fuller and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis with Dr. Teresa Lever.  We hope to translate findings from our basic science laboratory to our clinical laboratory and the two labs work synergistically towards the NSSR mission of improving the functions of speech, swallowing and breathing in neurologic disease.  


  1. Determine underlying neural mechanisms mediating oral motor dysfunction in small animal models of Parkinson’s disease (PD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and Pompe’s disease.
  2. To use this information to test novel behavioral, pharmacologic and gene therapies on the peripheral (muscle) and central (brain) nervous system; oral motor physiology and function; disease progression; and ultimately survival.


Specific techniques utilized in this laboratory include: videofluoroscopic evaluation of swallowing function in small animal models; temporal, kinematic and force assessment of the tongue; acoustic analysis of chewing and bite patterns; behavioral limb motor testing (cylinder, vermicelli handling, skilled pellet reaching behavioral testing); progressive limb motor and lingual resistance training; 6-Hydroxydopamine lesion surgeries; Intracortical Microstimulation (ICMS); High Protein Liquid Chromography (HPLC); and near Infrared Densitometry and Cell count analysis.
  • NSSR Basic Science Lab
  • NSSR Basic Science Lab
  • NSSR Basic Science Lab
  • NSSR Basic Science Lab
  • NSSR Basic Science Lab

Related Basic Science Lab Publications

Plowman,E.K., Bijangi-Vishehsaraei, K, Halum, S., Cates, D., Hanenberg, H, Domer, A.S, Nolta, JA, Belafsky, P.C. (2014). Autologous Myoblasts Attenuate Atrophy and Improve Tongue Force in a Denervated Tongue Model: A Pilot Study. Laryngoscope. 124(2):E20-26.

Plowman E.K., Maling, N., Thomas, N.J., Fowler, S.C., Kleim, J.A. (In press). Targeted motor rehabilitation dissociates corticobulbar versus corticospinal dysfunction in an animal model of Parkinson’s disease. Neural Rehabilitation and Repair. Pubmed

Plowman E.K., Maling, N., Rivera, B., Larson, K., Thomas, N.J., Fowler, S.C., Manfredsson, F.P., Shrivastav, R., Kleim, J.A. (2013). Differential sensitivity of cranial and limb motor function to nigrostriatal dopamine depletion. Behavioral Brain Research Pubmed

Plowman, E.K., Thomas, N.J. & Kleim, J.A. (2011). Unilateral intrastriatal dopamine depletion induces motor impairments and disrupts motor maps. Journal of Parkinson’s Disease, 1, 93-100. PDF

Plowman, E.K. and Kleim, J. A. (2011). Behavioral and Neurophysiological Correlates of Striatal Dopamine Depletion: A Rodent Model of Parkinson’s Disease. Journal of Communication Disorders, 44(5):549-56. Pubmed

Belafsky, P.C, Plowman, E.K, Mehdizadeh, O, Cates, D, Domer A., Yen K. (2013). The Upper Esophageal Sphincter (UES) is Not Round: A Pilot Study Evaluating a More Physiologic Approach to UES Dilation. Annals of Otology, Rhinology & Laryngology. 122(4):217-221. Pubmed

Cates, D., Plowman,E.K., Mehdizadeh, O., Yen, K., Domer, A., Gilden, M., and Belafsky, P.C. (2013). The Upper Esophageal Sphincter Is Not Round (UES): Silicone Polymer Casting of the UES in an Ovine Model of  Oropharyngeal Dysphagia. Laryngoscope.  123(3):721-726.   Pubmed