Mapping typical and hypokinetic dysarthric speech production network using a connected speech paradigm in functional MRI


We developed a task paradigm whereby subjects spoke aloud while minimizing head motion during functional MRI (fMRI) in order to better understand the neural circuitry involved in motor speech disorders due to dysfunction of the central nervous system. To validate our overt continuous speech paradigm, we mapped the speech production network (SPN) in typical speakers (n = 19, 10 females) and speakers with hypokinetic dysarthria as a manifestation of Parkinson disease (HKD; n = 21, 8 females) in fMRI. We then compared it with the SPN derived during overt speech production by 15O-water PET in the same group of typical speakers and another HKD cohort (n = 10, 2 females). The fMRI overt connected speech paradigm did not result in excessive motion artifacts and successfully identified the same brain areas demonstrated in the PET studies in the two cohorts. The SPN derived in fMRI demonstrated significant spatial overlap with the corresponding PET derived maps (typical speakers: r = 0.52; speakers with HKD: r = 0.43) and identified the components of the neural circuit of speech production belonging to the feedforward and feedback subsystems. The fMRI study in speakers with HKD identified significantly decreased activity in critical feedforward (bilateral dorsal premotor and motor cortices) and feedback (auditory and somatosensory areas) subsystems replicating previous PET study findings in this cohort. These results demonstrate that the overt connected speech paradigm is feasible during fMRI and can accurately localize the neural substrates of typical and disordered speech production. Our fMRI paradigm should prove useful for study of motor speech and voice disorders, including stuttering, apraxia of speech, dysarthria, and spasmodic dysphonia.

Publication Title

NeuroImage: Clinical