This proposal investigates the role of the cerebellum in speech, building upon theoretical models and experimental methods that have proven useful in understanding cerebellar function in reaching and walking. Neuroimaging and lesion studies have provided compelling evidence that the cerebellum is an integral part of the speech production network, though its precise role in the control of speech remains unclear. Furthermore, damage to the cerebellum (either degenerative or focal) can lead to ataxic dysarthria, a motor speech disorder characterized, in part, by impaired articulation and severe temporal deficits. This grant seeks to bridge the gap between theoretical models of cerebellar function and the speech symptoms associated with ataxic dysarthria. Two mechanisms underlie speech motor control ? feedback and feedforward control. In feedback control, speakers use sensory feedback (e.g., of their own voice) to control their speech. In feedforward control, speakers use knowledge gained from their past speech productions, rather than on-line feedback, to control their speech. This proposal entails a systematic plan to elucidate the role of the cerebellum in feedforward and feedback control of speech. A central hypothesis is that the cerebellum is especially critical in the feedforward control of speech, but has little involvement in feedback control. To explore this hypothesis, we will obtain converging evidence from three innovative methodologies: 1) Neuropsychological studies of speech-motor responses to real-time altered auditory feedback in patients with cerebellar atrophy (CA) and matched healthy controls, 2) Parallel studies in healthy controls undergoing theta-burst transcranial magnetic stimulation to create ?virtual lesions? of the cerebellum, and 3) Structural and functional studies in CA patients to examine the relationship between cerebellar lesion location, dysarthria symptoms, and feedforward and feedback control ability. Speech provides an important opportunity to examine how well current theories of cerebellar function generalize to a novel effector (vocal tract) and sensory (auditory) domain. Its? purpose for communication imposes exacting spectro-temporal constraints not seen in other motor domains. Furthermore, the distinctive balance of feedback and feedforward control in speech allows us to examine changes in both control types subsequent to cerebellar damage. Critically, this is the first work examining the link between theoretically- motivated control deficits in CA patients and the speech symptoms associated with ataxic dysarthria, as well as their neural correlates.

Public Health Relevance

? RELEVANCE The research project proposed here aims to characterize the role of the cerebellum in speech motor control by studying 1) patients with cerebellar damage and 2) healthy speakers who have undergone brain stimulation to lower activity in the cerebellum. The focus of the work will be on assessing the operations required for controlling and coordinating the articulatory gestures of speech. This work will help us understand how the cerebellum works and may lead to the development of new therapies for speech disorders caused by cerebellar damage. !

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
Research Project (R01)
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Motor Function, Speech and Rehabilitation Study Section (MFSR)
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Shekim, Lana O
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University of California San Francisco
Schools of Medicine
San Francisco
United States
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