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Swallowing Neuro-Rehabilitation Research Laboratory

dysphagia, non-invasive brain stimulation, swallowing neurophysiology...

HUman non-invasive brain stimulation


Research Summary

Impaired swallowing, or dysphagia, is a frequent consequence of neurological or anatomical impairment, and can lead to serious health complications such as aspiration pneumonia, malnutrition, dehydration and choking. Individuals of all ages can be affected by dysphagia and related health care costs pose a significant burden on the Australian Health Care System. In addition, dysphagia severely impacts on the quality of life of patients and carers, reducing self-worth and social participation. Research in the swallowing neurorehabilitation research lab employs state-of-the-art non-invasive brain stimulation and skill training techniques with the aim of increasing our understanding of healthy and impaired swallowing neurophysiology and developing new and effective rehabilitation strategies.


Research Projects

Non-invasive neurostimulation techniques promoting the brain’s ability to reorganise its neural connections have been shown to hold a promising potential to aid the recovery of impaired motor function. In a series of research projects, we employ transcranial magnetic or direct current stimulation to investigate the role of cortical swallowing motor networks in healthy and impaired swallowing. This research aims to develop novel and effective swallowing rehabilitation interventions that are based on the principles of neuroplastic reorganisation.

Motor skill training has received increasing interest in swallowing rehabilitation research in recent years. This research is based on the notion that swallowing-related muscle contraction not only requires sufficient strength, but also needs to occur in a precisely timed sequence of events. A series of projects in our lab investigates the effects of novel motor skill interventions on behavioural and neurophysiological outcome measures of swallowing.

Selected Publications

Rumbach A, Coombes C, Doeltgen S (2018) A Survey of Australian Dysphagia Practice Patterns. Dysphagia, 33(2):216-226


Cock C, Doeltgen SH, Omari T, Savilampi J (2018) Effects of remifentanil on esophageal and esophagogastric junction (EGJ) bolus transit in healthy volunteers using novel pressure‐flow analysis. Neurogastroenterology & Motility, 30(2). doi: 10.1111/nmo.13191


Murray J, Scholten I, Doeltgen S (2018) Factors Contributing to Hydration, Fluid Intake and Health Status of Inpatients With and Without Dysphagia Post Stroke. Dysphagia, 1-14


Ferris L, Schar M, McCall L, Doeltgen S, Scholten I, Rommel N, Cock C, Omari T (2017 - Epub ahead of Print) Characterization of swallow modulation in response to bolus volume in healthy subjects accounting for catheter diameter. Laryngoscope. https://doi.org/10.1002/lary.26820


Doeltgen SH, Ong E, Scholten I, Cock C, Omari T (2017) Biomechanical Quantification of Mendelsohn Maneuver and Effortful Swallowing on Pharyngo-Esophageal Function. Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, 157(5):816-823


Tilley E, McLoughlin J, Koblar SA, Doeltgen SH, Stern C, White S, Peter MJD (2016) Effectiveness of allied health therapy in the symptomatic management of progressive supranuclear palsy: a systematic review. JBI Database System Rev Implement Rep, 14(6):148-195


McAllister S, Kruger S, Doeltgen SH, Tyler-Boltrek E (2016) Implications of variability in clinical bedside swallowing assessment practices by speech language pathologists. Dysphagia, 31(5):650-662


Al-Toubi A, Daniels SK, Huckabee ML, Corey D, Doeltgen SH (2016) Behavioural and neurophysiological disruption of corticobulbar motor systems and their effects on sequential pharyngeal swallowing. Physiol Behav, 165:69-76


Ferris L, Rommel N, Doeltgen S, Scholten I, Kritas S, Abu-Assi R, McCall L, Seiboth G, Lowe K, Moore D, Faulks J, Omari T (2016) Pressure Flow Analysis for Assessment of Pediatric Oropharyngeal Dysphagia. J Pediatrics, 177:279-285


Doeltgen S, Omari TI, Savilampi J (2016) Remifentanil alters sensory neuromodulation of swallowing in healthy volunteers: Quantification by a novel pressure-impedance analysis. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol, 310:G1176–G1182


Omari TI, Savilampi J, Kokkin M, Schar M, Lamvik K, Doeltgen SH, Cock C (2016) The Reliability of Pharyngeal High Resolution Manometry with Impedance for Derivation of Measures of Swallowing Function in Healthy Volunteers. Int J Otolaryngol, 2016:2718482


Doeltgen SH, Omari TI (2016) Correlating stroke lesion location with clinical outcomes–an example from deglutition research. Eur J Neurol, 23(7):1139-40


Murray J, Doeltgen S, Miller M, Scholten I (2016) Does a water protocol improve the hydration and health status of individuals with thin liquid aspiration following stroke? A randomized-controlled trial. Dysphagia, 31(3):424-433


Chothia M, Doeltgen S, Bradnam LV (2016) Anodal Cerebellar Direct Current Stimulation Reduces Facilitation of Propriospinal Neurons in Healthy Humans. Brain Stimul, 9(3):364-71


Doeltgen SH, Young J, Bradnam LV (2016) Anodal Direct Current Stimulation of the Cerebellum Reduces Cerebellar Brain Inhibition but Does Not Influence Afferent Input from the Hand or Face in Healthy Adults. Cerebellum, 15(4):466-74


Rej L, Doeltgen S, Rodriguez A, Van Steenbrugge W (2016) Aphasia Rehabilitation Service Delivery in a Stroke Rehabilitation Unit in Australia: A Clinical Audit of Speech Pathology Practices. Internet Journal of Allied Health Sciences and Practice, 14(2):12

Doeltgen SH, Bradnam L, Young J, Fong E (2015) Transcranial non-invasive brain stimulation in swallowing rehabilitation following stroke – A review of the literature. Physiology and Behaviour, 143:1-9

Doeltgen SH, Young J, Bradnam LV (2015) Anodal Direct Current Stimulation of the Cerebellum Reduces Cerebellar Brain Inhibition but Does Not Influence Afferent Input from the Hand or Face in Healthy Adults. The Cerebellum, 1-9

Pitcher JB, Riley A, Doeltgen SH, Kurylowicz L, Rothwell JC, McAllister S, Smith A, Clow A, Kennaway D, Ridding MC (2012) Physiological evidence consistent with reduced neuroplasticity in human adolescents born preterm. Journal of Neuroscience, 32(46):16410-16416

Doeltgen SH, McAllister SM, Ridding MC (2012) Simultaneous application of slow-oscillation transcranial direct current stimulation and theta burst stimulation prolongs cTBS-induced suppression of corticomotor excitability in humans. European Journal of Neuroscience, 36:2661-2668

Heck F, Doeltgen SH, Huckabee ML (2012) Effects of submental neuromuscular electrical stimulation on pharyngeal pressure generation. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 93:2000-2007

Doeltgen SH, Huckabee ML (2012) Swallowing Neuro-rehabilitation: From the research laboratory to routine clinical application. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 93:207-213

Doeltgen SH, Ridding MC (2011) Modulation of cortical motor networks following primed theta burst transcranial magnetic stimulation. Experimental Brain Research, 215:199-206

Doeltgen SH, Ridding MC (2011) Low-intensity, short-interval Theta Burst Stimulation modulates excitatory but not inhibitory motor networks. Clinical Neurophysiology, 122(7):1411-1416




  • Sebastian Doeltgen, PhD, MSLT

Support Staff

  • Mistyka Schar, Research Assistant


  • Lara Ferris, PhD Student

  • Emily-Jane Lively, Master of Science-By-Research Student

    Rebecca Francis, Honours Student

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