Sensorimotor adaptation of voice fundamental frequency in Parkinson’s disease

Defne Abur, Rosemary A. Lester-Smith, Ayoub Daliri, Ashling A. Lupiani, Frank H. Guenther, Cara E. Stepp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Objective This study examined adaptive responses to auditory perturbation of fundamental frequency (fo) in speakers with Parkinson’s disease (PD) and control speakers. Method Sixteen speakers with PD and nineteen control speakers produced sustained vowels while they received perturbed auditory feedback (i.e., fo shifted upward or downward). Speakers’ pitch acuity was quantified using a just-noticeable-difference (JND) paradigm. Twelve listeners provided estimates of the speech intelligibility for speakers with PD. Results Fifteen responses from each speaker group for each shift direction were included in analyses. While control speakers generally showed consistent adaptive responses opposing the perturbation, speakers with PD showed no compensation on average, with individual PD speakers showing highly variable responses. In the PD group, the degree of compensation was not significantly correlated with age, disease progression, pitch acuity, or intelligibility. Conclusions These findings indicate reduced adaptation to sustained fo perturbation and higher variability in PD compared to control participants. No significant differences were seen in pitch acuity between groups, suggesting that the fo adaptation deficit in PD is not the result of purely perceptual mechanisms. Significance These results suggest there is an impairment in vocal motor control in PD. Building on these results, contributions can be made to developing targeted voice treatments for PD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0191839
JournalPloS one
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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