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Session IV: Contributions of the Sensory System to Normal and Abnormal Deglutition

About This Course
This course is pre-recorded so you can take the course at your own pace. If  you have already registered, please access your CE videos & documents within your groups pages in your online profile (you must sign in to access). 


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Session Preview
This session will cover the surgical aspects of sensory preservation and sensory loss and the effect on motor control and swallowing. The data blitz will summarize research regarding methods of evaluating thermal, chemo and mechanoreception and the relationships between these sensory modalities and swallowing function.



  Emily Zimmerman, PhD, CCC-SLP
Dr. Zimmerman is an assistant professor in the  Department of Communication Sciences at Northeastern University and director of the Speech and Neurodevelopment Lab. Professor Zimmerman’s research is focused on the link between early sucking, feeding and subsequent neurodevelopment. She studies the environmental, maternal, physiological, and genetic influences of these behaviors across patient populations and cultures. 
Catriona Steele, PhD, S-LP(C), CCC-SLP, Reg. CASLPO, ASHA Fellow

Professor Catriona M. Steele is a clinician scientist working in the area of swallowing and swallowing disorders.  She has a background as a medical speech-language pathologist, and is Director of the Swallowing Rehabilitation Research Laboratory ( at KITE, the research arm of the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute – University Health Network. Dr. Steele is a Professor in the Department of Speech-Language Pathology at the University of Toronto.

Professor Steele holds research funding from the National Institutes of Health (USA) as well as several active industry contracts. She is an associate editor for the Dysphagia journal and a member of the editorial board for the Journal of Texture Studies. She is also a member of the Board of Directors for the International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative ( 

  Corinne Jones, PhD, CCC-SLP

Corinne Jones, PhD, CCC-SLP is an assistant professor in the Departments of Neurology and Communication Sciences & Disorders at the University of Texas at Austin. She also has a clinical dysphagia practice with UT Health Austin. Her resea rch interests include motor control and motor learning of swallowing behaviors, innovative evaluation of dysphagia, and noninvasive neuromodulatory approaches to dysphagia rehabilitation.

  Mark Varvares, MD, FACS

Mark Varvares is a native of St. Louis, Missouri. He attended the University of Missouri-Columbia from 1976 to 1980 as a pre-dental student. He then received an acceptance to the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry where he spent one year from 1980 to 1981. After one year of dental school, it was clear to Dr. Varvares that medicine, and not dentistry, would be the most appropriate career path. He entered the Saint Louis University School of Medicine in 1982 and graduated in 1986 magna cum laude and a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society.

He trained in Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, completing one year at Saint Louis University and remainder at Harvard.  Following residency, he completed a one-year Head and Neck Ablative and Reconstructive Surgery fellowship at Harvard under the direction of Drs. William Montgomery and Mack Cheney.  After completing training he held faculty appointments at both Saint Louis University and Harvard.

In 2003, he assumed the position as Chairman of the Department of Otolaryngology‑Head and Neck Surgery at Saint Louis University. In January of 2006, Dr. Varvares was also named Director of the Saint Louis University Cancer Center. In April of 2008, Dr. Varvares was named the first incumbent of the Donald and Marlene Jerome Endowed Chair in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. In February of 2015 he left St Louis to return to Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery at The Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and the Harvard Department of Otolaryngology to serve as the Associate Chair. He currently holds the William Montgomery and John Merriam Endowed Chair at Harvard Medical School. In 2018 he was promoted to the rank of Professor of Otolaryngology at Harvard Medical School.

As Associate Chair he holds a number of administrative positions both within the Department of Otolaryngology at Massachusetts Eye and Ear and that of the Hospital Institutional structure as well.

His present clinical interests include all areas of head and neck surgical oncology, including major ablative and reconstructive surgery of the head and neck, multidisciplinary care of the head and neck cancer patient, skull base surgery, reconstruction of the larynx and trachea and the surgical management of thyroid and parathyroid disorders. He maintains a busy surgical practice in head and neck surgery.

Research interests include the impact that surgical pathology of head and neck cancers has on oncologic outcomes, intraoperative imaging in oral cancer resections, the functional evaluation of patients undergoing treatment for cancer of the oral cavity and how to optimize the outcomes and how level of education and socioeconomic status impacts treatment patterns and outcomes in head and neck cancer patients.

Catriona Steele
Financial Disclosure: Dr. Steele is employed by the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute and receives a salary. She also receives grant funding for research from the National Institute of Health.
Non-Financial Disclosure: Dr. Steele is a board member of IDDSI for texture modification for dysphagia.

Corinne Jones
Financial Disclosure: Dr. Jones is employed by the University of Texas-Austin and receives a salary. She also receives grant funding from Merck for being a principal investigator in Parkinson’s Disease.
Non-Financial Disclosure: No relevant non-financial disclosure exists

Mark Varvares
Financial Disclosure: Dr. Varvares is employed by Massachusetts Eye and Ear and receives a salary.
Non-Financial Disclosure: No relevant non-financial disclosure exists.

Emily Zimmerman
Financial Disclosure: Dr Zimmerman is employed by Northeastern University and receives a salary. 
Non-Financial Disclosure: No relevant non-financial disclosure exists.


The presentation is approximately one hour.


Learning Objectives
After completing this session you will be able to:

  • Describe perceptions of taste and chemosensory intensity and how they differ according to receptor density and genetics. 
  • Describe how triangle testing and staircase methods can be used to evaluate sensory function.
  • Summarize evidence regarding the relationship between tongue strength and oral viscosity discrimination. 
  • Identify the current state of art of oral cavity reconstruction with respect to motor and sensory restoration. 
  • Develop and appreciation for the importance developing valid metrics for measuring outcomes. 
  • Define the impact of a sensory deficit on the oral phase of swallowing. 


Certificate of Completion

  • You will receive your certificate for this course upon completion of the online Learning Assessment. You will find your certificate within your profile under "Professional Development". 
  • Your ASHA CEU credits will be processed through the American Board of Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders. Reporting dates are the following: May 30th, June 30th, July 31st and September 30th. After September 30th, reporting dates will be at the end of every quarter. 

This course is offered for .10 ASHA CEUs (Advanced Level; Professional area). 


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