Patients with Parkinson’s disease who are treated with deep brain stimulation (DBS) generally have unpredictable and varied speech outcomes after DBS surgery. Their speech can worsen, stay the same, or even slightly improve. To help solve the mystery, a UB speech scientist and her research team have received a $3.1 million grant from the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study speech and movement among Parkinson’s patients receiving DBS treatment. The UB team involves a prominent group of research collaborators, including a top neurosurgeon from the University of Iowa—the grant runs till 2025.
What is the Study?
The project, “Role of Subthalamic nucleus in Speech and Movement among people with Parkinson’s as Revealed by Intraoperative Recordings and Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS),” had just begun enrolling participants when elective surgeries were suspended due to COVID-19. The surgeries are slated to resume mid-January when the project will resume as well.
Co-investigator Kris Tjaden, professor in the Department Communicative Disorders and Sciences and associate dean for natural sciences and mathematics in the College of Arts and Sciences commented for UB, “One of the most exciting aspects of the project is that we are studying neural activity in the brain, while patients are awake and talking as they are undergoing DBS surgery, comparing brain activity during speaking to brain activity during a limb motor task.”
Also involved in this effort is Jeremy Greenlee, a neurosurgeon from the University of Iowa and principal investigator of the project. Dr. Greenlee will perform the DBS surgeries at the University of Iowa while the team obtains audio recordings of the patient’s speech. The recordings will be analyzed by the UB-based Motor and Speech Laboratory, led by Professor Tjaden.
Other collaborators include Daniel Corcos, a neuroscientist from Northwestern University, as well as University of Pittsburgh statistician Charity Patterson.
UB Motor and Speech Laboratory
Members from the UB Motor and Speech Laboratory will perform all of the speech acoustic analyses, such as instrumental measures of voice quality, pitch and intensity, measures of articulatory precision, and speech durations. The team will also obtain listener perceptual judgments of speech intelligibility, which measures an individual’s functional communication level.
Professor Tjaden further explained via the UB website, “We have reason to hypothesize that differences in brain activity during speaking versus the limb task will help to predict, along with other factors, those patients whose functional speech ability — for example, intelligibility — declines substantially within a year post-surgery.”
Kris Tjaden, Ph.D., Department of Communicative Disorders and Sciences, University of Buffalo
Jeremy Greenlee, MD, Arnold H. Menezes Chair in Neurosurgery, Professor of Neurosurgery, University of Iowa
Daniel Corcos, Ph.D., Professor of Physical Therapy & Human Movement Sciences, Northwestern University
Charity Patterson, Ph.D., MSPH, Director of Physical Therapy Data Center, Professor, University of PittsburghTop of Form