Liu, H., Wang, E.Q., Metman, L.V., Larson, C.R.
Vocal responses to perturbations in voice auditory feedhack in individuals with Parkinson’s disease.
PLoS One, 7 (3), 1-10, 2012


One of the most common symptoms of speech deficits in individuals with Parkinson’s disease (PD) is significantly reduced vocal loudness and pitch range. The present study investigated whether abnormal vocalizations in individuals with PD are related to sensory processing of voice auditory feedback. Perturbations in loudness or pitch of voice auditory feedback are known to elicit short latency, compensatory responses in voice amplitude or fundamental frequency.

Methodology/Principle Findings
Twelve individuals with Parkinson’s disease and 13 age- and sex- matched healthy control subjects sustained a vowel sound (/ɑ/) and received unexpected, brief (200 ms) perturbations in voice loudness (±3 or 6 dB) or pitch (±100 cents) auditory feedback. Results showed that, while all subjects produced compensatory responses in their voice amplitude or fundamental frequency, individuals with PD exhibited larger response magnitudes than the control subjects. Furthermore, for loudness-shifted feedback, upward stimuli resulted in shorter response latencies than downward stimuli in the control subjects but not in individuals with PD.

The larger response magnitudes in individuals with PD compared with the control subjects suggest that processing of voice auditory feedback is abnormal in PD. Although the precise mechanisms of the voice feedback processing are unknown, results of this study suggest that abnormal voice control in individuals with PD may be related to dysfunctional mechanisms of error detection or correction in sensory feedback processing.