Int J Med Sci 2015; 12(6):502-509. doi:10.7150/ijms.11911


Chewing Maintains Hippocampus-Dependent Cognitive Function

Huayue Chen1✉, Mitsuo Iinuma2, Minoru Onozuka3, Kin-Ya Kubo4✉

1. Department of Anatomy Gifu University Graduate School of Medicine, Gifu, 501-1194, Gifu, Japan
2. Department of Pediatric Dentistry, Division of Oral Structure, Function and Development, Asahi University, School of Dentistry, Mizuho, 501-0296, Gifu, Japan
3. Department of Judo Therapy and Medical Science, Faculty of Medical Science, Nippon Sport Science University, Yokohama 227-0033, Kanagawa, Japan
4. Seijoh University Graduate School of Health Care Studies, Tokai, 476-8588, Aichi, Japan

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Chen H, Iinuma M, Onozuka M, Kubo KY. Chewing Maintains Hippocampus-Dependent Cognitive Function. Int J Med Sci 2015; 12(6):502-509. doi:10.7150/ijms.11911. Available from

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Mastication (chewing) is important not only for food intake, but also for preserving and promoting the general health. Recent studies have showed that mastication helps to maintain cognitive functions in the hippocampus, a central nervous system region vital for spatial memory and learning. The purpose of this paper is to review the recent progress of the association between mastication and the hippocampus-dependent cognitive function. There are multiple neural circuits connecting the masticatory organs and the hippocampus. Both animal and human studies indicated that cognitive functioning is influenced by mastication. Masticatory dysfunction is associated with the hippocampal morphological impairments and the hippocampus-dependent spatial memory deficits, especially in elderly. Mastication is an effective behavior for maintaining the hippocampus-dependent cognitive performance, which deteriorates with aging. Therefore, chewing may represent a useful approach in preserving and promoting the hippocampus-dependent cognitive function in older people. We also discussed several possible mechanisms involved in the interaction between mastication and the hippocampal neurogenesis and the future directions for this unique fascinating research.

Keywords: Cognition, Hippocampus, Mastication