Cortical networks for speech motor control in unilateral vocal fold paralysis

Molly L. Naunheim, Katherine C. Yung, Sarah L. Schneider, Jennifer Henderson-Sabes, Hardik Kothare, Leighton B. Hinkley, Danielle Mizuiri, David J. Klein, John F. Houde, Srikantan S. Nagarajan, Steven W. Cheung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Objective: To evaluate brain networks for motor control of voice production in patients with treated unilateral vocal fold paralysis (UVFP). Study Design: Cross-sectional comparison. Methods: Nine UVFP patients treated by type I thyroplasty, and 11 control subjects were compared using magnetoencephalographic imaging to measure beta band (12–30 Hz) neural oscillations during voice production with perturbation of pitch feedback. Differences in beta band power relative to baseline were analyzed to identify cortical areas with abnormal activity within the 400 ms perturbation period and 125 ms beyond, for a total of 525 ms. Results: Whole-brain task-induced beta band activation patterns were qualitatively similar in both treated UVFP patients and healthy controls. Central vocal motor control plasticity in UVFP was expressed within constitutive components of central human communication networks identified in healthy controls. Treated UVFP patients exhibited statistically significant enhancement (P < 0.05) in beta band activity following pitch perturbation onset in left auditory cortex to 525 ms, left premotor cortex to 225 ms, and left and right frontal cortex to 525 ms. Conclusion: This study further corroborates that a peripheral motor impairment of the larynx can affect central cortical networks engaged in auditory feedback processing, vocal motor control, and judgment of voice-as-self. Future research to dissect functional relationships among constitutive cortical networks could reveal neurophysiological bases of central contributions to voice production impairment in UVFP. Those novel insights would motivate innovative treatments to improve voice production and reduce misalignment of voice-quality judgment between clinicians and patients. Level of Evidence: 3b. Laryngoscope, 129:2125–2130, 2019.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2125-2130
Number of pages6
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2019


  • Unilateral vocal fold paralysis
  • cortical networks
  • pitch perturbation
  • speech motor control
  • voice quality


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