Cal State University lengthy Beach researcher Betty McMicken and Long Wang, left, have actually been working with Kelly Rogers, center, that was born through the rare condition Isolated Congenital Aglossia (born there is no a tongue). The three illustrate the testing process where Rogers would sample clear liquids and describe the taste. Friday, December 12, 2014, long Beach, CA. (Steve McCrank / staff Photographer)


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Cal State University long Beach researchers Betty McMicken and Long Wang have actually been working v Kelly Rogers, who was born v the rare problem Isolated Congenital Aglossia (born without a tongue). A photograph diagram reflects Rogers' mouth whereby the basic of the mouth acts together a tongue. Friday, December 12, 2014, lengthy Beach, CA. (Steve McCrank / employee Photographer)


LONG coast >> brand-new research by 2 professors at Cal State long Beach shows that humans may not need tongues to talk or taste.

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Working v Kelly Rogers, a Saddleback college student that was born without a tongue but has to be able come speak due to the fact that she to be a child, Betty McMicken, combine professor in the department of Speech-Language Pathology, and Long Wang, assistant professor of nutrition in the room of Family and also Consumer Sciences, discovered that she recognize all simple tastes.

The research may lead to assist for those who have partially or totally lost your tongues — with a procedure dubbed a glossectomy — because of cancer or other reasons.

“She’s transforming the vocal shape, horn, the resonator,” McMicken said. “So the more we know around that, the much more we can help individuals that have had actually injuries or surgery. The other thing is that we have actually not explored taste in people who have had actually glossectomies, partial glossectomies, head and also neck cancer, even neurological deficits.”


McMicken, a professor, clinician and also researcher in speech-language pathology for more than 48 years, was recently graced with the “Honors that the Association” indigenous the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, i m sorry recognizes world in interaction sciences and disorders because that excellence in the areas of teaching, research, ar service and also professional expertise.

She and Wang have actually been looking into isolated congenital aglossia, the rare condition in i m sorry a human is born without a tongue. Rogers, your test case, is one of 11 civilization recorded in clinical literature because 1718 to have the condition, and there are fewer than 10 in the human being today who have actually it, McMicken said.

She and Rogers an initial met in 1986 once Rogers, who learned to talk at a young age with muscle in her mouth and throat, came down on Western Medical center in Santa Ana to see if doctors might reconstruct she jaw at the age of 16.

McMicken and a team the doctors figured out that surgical procedure would influence Rogers’ ability to speak. But McMicken never forgot Rogers. She and also a clinical team tape-recorded audio and video clip of Rogers speaking.

It was about 25 years later on that she started in search of Rogers. The two associated in 2012 after a Press-Telegram article around McMicken’s research and her search to locate Rogers, who eventually came to be the professor’s research study assistant.


With Rogers together their check subject, McMicken and also Wang performed several tests on taste, and parts of she mouth and also throat while she spoke.

In enhancement to her speech, they uncovered she could detect the significant tastes, native sour and also sweet come bitter and salty. The study consisted of her identify tastes indigenous liquids blended with flavoring, and also it to be the very first to present umami — the taste from glutamate, one amino acid discovered naturally in countless foods — as detectable through a human being without a tongue.

The muscle mass in the floor of she mouth has actually been collected through years of speaking. The fixed contracts and relaxes and also she is able come touch the muscle to her palate. Various other structures of the mouth are affiliated in Rogers’ capacity to speak.

One that the an ext interesting facets of Rogers’ condition, the researcher said, was the she has had no medical intervention.

“What we’ve to be observing is the organic condition, the natural progression,” Wang said. “Because Betty came to know Kelly nearly three decades ago and every the documents are here, it’s been really fascinating to monitor someone because that so long.”

Rogers is one of the co-authors ~ above a document about the taste experiment, published online in august in the journal of dental Biology and Craniofacial Research.

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Her parents to be told by physicians she can never have the ability to speak normally, if in ~ all. She stated while farming up, people didn’t think she was without a tongue, due to the fact that she speak so well. Rogers plans to examine speech-language pathology at CSULB.

Like other college students, she enjoys stout beers.

“I just had this beer, Xocoveza, by Stone,” she said. “Oh my gosh. Good stuff.”

McMicken said Rogers is a distinct case, and continued research studies will prove an important for world who will need their tongues totally or partly removed.

She looked at Rogers and also said, “I’ve acquired a many to learn from you.”