No AccessJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing ResearchResearch Article15 Mar 2018

Deep Brain Stimulation of the Subthalamic Nucleus Parameter Optimization for Vowel Acoustics and Speech Intelligibility in Parkinson's Disease


    The settings of 3 electrical stimulation parameters were adjusted in 12 speakers with Parkinson's disease (PD) with deep brain stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus (STN-DBS) to examine their effects on vowel acoustics and speech intelligibility.


    Participants were tested under permutations of low, mid, and high STN-DBS frequency, voltage, and pulse width settings. At each session, participants recited a sentence. Acoustic characteristics of vowel production were extracted, and naive listeners provided estimates of speech intelligibility.


    Overall, lower-frequency STN-DBS stimulation (60 Hz) was found to lead to improvements in intelligibility and acoustic vowel expansion. An interaction between speaker sex and STN-DBS stimulation was found for vowel measures. The combination of low frequency, mid to high voltage, and low to mid pulse width led to optimal speech outcomes; however, these settings did not demonstrate significant speech outcome differences compared with the standard clinical STN-DBS settings, likely due to substantial individual variability.


    Although lower-frequency STN-DBS stimulation was found to yield consistent improvements in speech outcomes, it was not found to necessarily lead to the best speech outcomes for all participants. Nevertheless, frequency may serve as a starting point to explore settings that will optimize an individual's speech outcomes following STN-DBS surgery.

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