Intrinsic laryngeal muscle response to a public speech preparation stressor

Leah B. Helou, Clark A. Rosen, Wei Wang, Katherine Verdolini Abbott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Purpose: Research suggests that abnormal levels of intrinsic laryngeal muscle (ILM) contraction is a potential causal factor in stress-induced voice disorders. This study seeks to characterize the ILM stress response in a cohort of vocally healthy women. Method: The authors used an unblinded, nonrandomized, repeated-measures design. Forty vocally healthy female adults were subjected to a stressful speech preparation task. Measurements of heart rate, blood pressure, trapezius muscle (positive control) activation, and tibialis muscle (negative control) activation were obtained from 37 participants before and during stressor exposure, in a nonvoice and nonspeaking task paradigm, to confirm physiological stress response compared to baseline. Fine wire electromyography of the ILMs (posterior cricoarytenoid, thyroarytenoid/lateral cricoarytenoid muscle complex, and cricothyroid) was performed simultaneously so that the activity of these muscles could be measured prior to and during stressor exposure. Results: The protocol successfully elicited the typical and expected physiological stress responses. Findings supported the hypothesis that, in some individuals, the ILMs significantly increase in activity during stress reactions compared to baseline, as do the control muscles. Conclusions: This study characterizes ILM responses to psychological stress in vocally healthy participants. Some of the female adults in this study appeared to be “laryngeal stress responders,” as evidenced by increased activity of the ILMs during a silent (i.e., nonvocal, nonspeech) speech preparation task that they considered to be stressful.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1525-1543
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2018


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