Cal State University long Beach researcher Betty McMicken and also Long Wang, left, have actually been working v Kelly Rogers, center, that was born through the rare problem Isolated Congenital Aglossia (born without a tongue). The three show the testing process where Rogers would sample clean liquids and also describe the taste. Friday, December 12, 2014, lengthy Beach, CA. (Steve McCrank / employee Photographer)


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Cal State University lengthy Beach researcher Betty McMicken and Long Wang have been working through Kelly Rogers, who was born with the rare problem Isolated Congenital Aglossia (born without a tongue). A photo diagram mirrors Rogers' mouth where the base of the mouth acts as a tongue. Friday, December 12, 2014, long Beach, CA. (Steve McCrank / employee Photographer)


LONG beach >> new research by 2 professors at Cal State long Beach indicates that people may not need tongues to speak or taste.

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Working with Kelly Rogers, a Saddleback university student who was born without a tongue yet has to be able come speak since she was a child, Betty McMicken, combine professor in the room of Speech-Language Pathology, and also Long Wang, assistant professor the nutrition in the department of Family and also Consumer Sciences, discovered that she recognize all an easy tastes.

The research might lead to help for those who have partially or fully lost their tongues — through a procedure referred to as a glossectomy — due to the fact that of cancer or various other reasons.

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


McMicken, a professor, clinician and researcher in speech-language pathology for much more than 48 years, was newly graced through the “Honors the the Association” indigenous the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, i beg your pardon recognizes civilization in communication sciences and also disorders for excellence in the areas of teaching, research, neighborhood service and professional expertise.

She and Wang have actually been looking right into isolated congenital aglossia, the rare problem in i m sorry a person is born without a tongue. Rogers, their test case, is one of 11 civilization recorded in clinical literature due to the fact that 1718 to have actually the condition, and there are fewer than 10 in the world today who have actually it, McMicken said.

She and Rogers an initial met in 1986 as soon as Rogers, who learned to speak at a young period with muscles in her mouth and also throat, arrived on Western Medical center in Santa Ana to check out if doctors could reconstruct she jaw in ~ the age of 16.

McMicken and a team the doctors established that surgery would influence Rogers’ ability to speak. However McMicken never ever forgot Rogers. She and a medical team taped audio and video clip of Rogers speaking.

It was about 25 years later that she started in search of Rogers. The two linked in 2012 ~ a Press-Telegram article about McMicken’s research and also her quest to situate Rogers, who eventually became the professor’s research assistant.


With Rogers as their test subject, McMicken and also Wang conducted several exam on taste, and also parts of her mouth and also throat while she spoke.

In enhancement to her speech, they uncovered she might detect the significant tastes, from sour and also sweet come bitter and also salty. The study consisted of her identifying tastes indigenous liquids mixed with flavoring, and it was the an initial to present umami — the taste native glutamate, one amino acid found naturally in countless foods — together detectable through a human without a tongue.

The muscle mass in the floor of her mouth has been collected through years of speaking. The massive contracts and relaxes and she is able come touch the muscle to her palate. Other structures of the mouth are connected in Rogers’ ability to speak.

One that the more interesting aspects of Rogers’ condition, the researcher said, was that she has had actually no medical intervention.

“What we’ve to be observing is the natural condition, the herbal progression,” Wang said. “Because Betty came to know Kelly virtually three decades back and all the documents are here, it’s been really fascinating to monitor someone for so long.”

Rogers is just one of the co-authors ~ above a file about the taste experiment, released online in respectable in the newspaper of oral Biology and also Craniofacial Research.

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Her parents to be told by medical professionals she can never be able to speak normally, if at all. She claimed while farming up, world didn’t believe she to be without a tongue, since she spoke so well. Rogers plan to research speech-language pathology at CSULB.

Like other college students, she enjoys stout beers.

“I just had actually this beer, Xocoveza, through Stone,” she said. “Oh my gosh. An excellent stuff.”

McMicken claimed Rogers is a unique case, and continued studies will prove an useful for world who will require their tongues completely or partly removed.

She looked in ~ Rogers and said, “I’ve obtained a many to find out from you.”