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Intrinsic laryngeal muscle response to a speech preparation stressor: personality and autonomic predictors

Helou, Leah (2014) Intrinsic laryngeal muscle response to a speech preparation stressor: personality and autonomic predictors. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Widespread clinical wisdom holds that stress affects the voice, as stress also affects many somatic functions. Assuming the validity of this rather straightforward assertion, clearly, the final causal pathway in some stress-induced voice disorders must involve the intrinsic laryngeal muscles (ILMs), which are indeed targeted by behavioral treatments. Unfortunately, to date, no data have been reported that directly investigate the underlying assumption. Moreover, some causal models around links between stress and voice include upstream factors. Specifically, personality traits such as Stress Reactivity might increase one’s susceptibility to these problems. In addition, the strength of the parasympathetic nervous (rest-and-digest) system response is implicated in the pathogenesis of voice disorders putatively involving ILM hyperfunction.

In the present study, 40 vocally healthy adult females were subjected to a stress-inducing speech preparation task. Measurements of heart rate, blood pressure, trapezius muscle (positive control site) activation, and tibialis muscle (negative control site) activation were obtained before and during stressor exposure to confirm physiological stress response compared to baseline. Additionally, fine wire electromyography of the following ILMs was performed so that the activity of these muscles could be measured prior to and during the stressor. Findings largely supported the hypothesis that the ILMs and trapezius significantly increase in activity during stress reactions compared to baseline, as does the tibialis muscle. Personality measures uniquely predicted thyroarytenoid, trapezius, and tibialis activity, whereas parasympathetic nervous system “tone” uniquely predicted the activity of all muscles studied. Differences were observed in the latter predictor variable as a function of whether or not effects of respiration were accounted for in the variable’s calculation.

The present study is the first to characterize ILM responses to psychological stress in vocally healthy participants, and further elucidates the contributing roles of trait Stress Reactivity and autonomic function in laryngeal muscle tension. This study helps to prepare a platform for future studies on individuals with common and somewhat poorly understood voice disorders often thought linked to stress, such as muscle tension dysphonia.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairVerdolini Abbott, Katherinekav25@pitt.eduKAV25
Committee MemberCoyle, James Ljcoyle@pitt.eduJCOYLE
Committee MemberJennings, Richardjenningsjr@upmc.eduINJENN
Committee MemberRosen, Clarkrosenca@upmc.eduCROSEN
Committee MemberTompkins,
Committee MemberShaiman, Susanshaiman@pitt.eduSHAIMAN
Date: 23 May 2014
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 1 April 2014
Approval Date: 23 May 2014
Submission Date: 7 April 2014
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 233
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences > Communication Science and Disorders
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: respiratory sinus arrhythmia; heart rate variability; electromyography; voice
Date Deposited: 23 May 2014 14:57
Last Modified: 19 Dec 2016 14:41


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