Lin, Yeung (2020) What do we learn from brain imaging?-A primer for the dentists who want to know more about the association between the brain and human stomatognathic functions Journal of oral rehabilitation ()


The number of neuroimaging studies on the brain and oral sensorimotor functions has increased recently. Behind the dazzling "brain maps," what does the neuroimaging evidence truly tell us? What can dentists learn from it to improve clinical practice? We summarise the pros and cons of applying magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-based neuroimaging to study oral behaviours of the dental patients. This is a narrative review of previous neuroimaging research of oral functions, focusing on MRI-related studies of human subjects. MRI has gained popularity in dental research due to its non-invasive nature, its approachability and its versatility in quantifying a variety of brain signatures. We argue that MRI-based neuroimaging is suitable for investigating the association between the between-individual variations in brain structure (eg grey matter volume)/brain functions (eg brain activation) and oral behaviours of the patients. Two specific topics of the daily dental practice, mastication and dental fear and anxiety, are discussed to exemplify the potential of neuroimaging methods. The methodological and interpretive limitations of MRI techniques are highlighted, and most importantly, we emphasise that the neuroimaging findings should be carefully interpreted given these limitations. MRI-based neuroimaging techniques can provide a better evaluation of the association between the brain and stomatognathic functions, which could be pivotal to the evidence-based clinical management of dental patients. © 2020 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.