Sensory Interaction in Voice and Voice Disorders

Project: Research project

Project Details


Recent models of the vocal sensorimotor system suggest that mechanosensory and auditory input interact to monitor voice production. Initiation of the respiratory, laryngeal, and supralaryngeal movements for voice occur prior to an audible acoustic signal. Consequently, auditory feedback alone is insufficient to guide these movements. Evidence suggests that mechanoreceptors within the laryngeal mucosa may provide perceptual and proprioceptive afference that allow interaction with auditory feedback for voice control. However, the nature of laryngeal mechanosensory monitoring and its interaction with auditory feedback are poorly understood. Voice disorders commonly observed in Adductor Spasmodic Dysphonia (ADSD) and Parkinson’s Disease (PD) may be associated with abnormal mechanosensory and auditory monitoring of voice production. This view is reinforced by current approaches to voice therapy that emphasize the importance of sensory monitoring and by recent evidence of sensory responses to botulinum toxin. However, sensory mechanisms associated with these voice disorders and how these mechanisms may respond to intervention remain largely unexplored. We will combine mechanosensory and auditory techniques developed in our laboratories to directly assess the mechanosensory and auditory mechanisms of the vocal sensorimotor system and the interaction between these sensory modalities in healthy participants and clinical participants with ADSD and PD. We have two specific aims: (1) To determine if mechanosensory monitoring is modulated during voice production and how it interacts with auditory feedback – to expand our understanding of the vocal sensorimotor system; (2) To define the association between voice-related sensory monitoring with voice severity and voice improvement in ADSD and PD. Based on our preliminary data, we hypothesize that mechanosensory monitoring is modulated during healthy voice production and interacts with auditory feedback to maintain voice in the presence of laryngeal sensory input. Based on our preliminary clinical data, we hypothesize that abnormal sensory monitoring is uniquely associated with voice disturbances in ADSD and PD and that each will improve with intervention. We have developed a sensorimotor assessment battery to define the sensory pathophysiology of ADSD and PD. Our assessments will be immediately applied in the clinical setting to gauge severity and treatment response with the long-term goal to refine voice treatment approaches. In this work, we will directly test the sensory mechanisms underlying healthy voice, ADSD, and PD as an innovative and critical next step to advance clinical care for these debilitating voice disorders. Our ability to directly assess sensory mechanisms that may be associated with voice disorders in ADSD and PD coupled with our ability to gauge improvement in these mechanisms is highly significant. This work will offer powerful insights into pathophysiology that may directly impact strategic approaches to voice treatment.
Effective start/end date2/1/187/31/20


  • University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (AAC6717 // 7R01DC014519-04)
  • National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (AAC6717 // 7R01DC014519-04)


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