Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders


Date of this Version



Exp Brain Res. 2010 March ; 201(3): 401–409.


Copyright 2010 Springer Verlag.


Parkinson’s disease (PD) is often associated with substantial impairment of speech respiratory and phonatory control. However, the degree to which these impairments are related to abnormal laryngeal sensory function is unknown. This study examined whether individuals with PD exhibited abnormal and more asymmetric laryngeal somatosensory function compared with healthy controls, and whether these deficits were associated with disease and voice severity. Nineteen PD participants were tested and compared with 18 healthy controls. Testing included endoscopic assessment of laryngeal somatosensory function, with aerodynamic and acoustic assessment of respiratory and phonatory control, and clinical ratings of voice and disease severity. PD participants exhibited significantly abnormal and asymmetric laryngeal somatosensory function compared with healthy controls. Sensory deficits were significantly associated with timing of phonatory onset, voice intensity, respiratory driving pressure, laryngeal resistance, lung volume expended per syllable, disease severity, and voice severity. These results suggest that respiratory and phonatory control are influenced by laryngeal somatosensory function, that speech-related deficits in PD are related to abnormal laryngeal somatosensory function, and that this function may degrade as a function of disease severity. Thus, PD may represent a model of airway sensorimotor disintegration, highlighting the important role of the basal ganglia and related neural networks in the integration of laryngeal sensory input for speech-related motor control.