Limbic and cortical control of phonation for speech in response to a public speech preparation stressor

Maria Dietrich, Richard D. Andreatta, Yang Jiang, Joseph C. Stemple

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Knowledge on brain networks subserving vocalization in vocally healthy individuals under various task conditions is scarce but paramount to understand voice disorders. The aims of our study were to determine (1) the effect of social-evaluative stress on the central neural control of phonation underlying speech production; and (2) the neural signature, personality profile, and aerodynamic vocal function in relation to salivary cortisol responses. Thirteen vocally healthy females underwent an event-related sparse-sampling fMRI protocol consisting of voiced and whispered sentence productions with and without exposure to the social-evaluative stressor public speaking anticipation. Participants completed a personality questionnaire, rating scales of negative emotional state, and provided salivary cortisol samples. In the total sample, the task contrast of voiced productions revealed that stressor exposure resulted in a peak activation in the right caudate with concomitant deactivations in the bilateral pgACC and aMCC, and right IFG, BA 9, BA 10, insula, putamen, and thalamus. There were individual differences in stressor-induced brain activations as a function of stress reactivity with greater cortisol reactivity linked with lower laryngeal motor cortex activity and lower scores on aspects of extraversion. Our data confirm that stress alters the phonatory control for speech production through limbic-motor interactions. The findings support the Trait Theory of Voice Disorders (Roy and Bless 2000) and help provide critical insights to the study of voice disorders such as primary muscle tension dysphonia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1696-1713
Number of pages18
JournalBrain Imaging and Behavior
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, The Author(s).


  • Functional MRI
  • Larynx
  • Limbic
  • Muscle tension dysphonia
  • Stress
  • Voice disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Limbic and cortical control of phonation for speech in response to a public speech preparation stressor'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this