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Role of Neurotransmission and Functional CNS Networks in Spasmodic Dysphonia

This study has been completed.
Information provided by:
National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC) Identifier:
First received: July 10, 2008
Last updated: April 21, 2017
Last verified: September 21, 2016

This study will examine how the brain controls speech in patients with spasmodic dysphonia, a voice disorder that involves involuntary spasms of muscles in the larynx (voice box), causing breaks in speech. Although the causes of spasmodic dysphonia are unknown, recent studies found changes in brain function in patients with the disorder that may play a role in its development.

People between 21 and 80 years of age with adductor spasmodic dysphonia may be eligible for this study. Candidates are screened with the following procedures:

Medical history and physical examination.

Nasolaryngoscopy to examine the larynx. For this test, the inside of the subject s nose is sprayed with a decongestant and a small, flexible tube called a nasolaryngoscope is passed through the nose to the back of the throat to allow examination of the larynx. The subject may be asked to talk, sing, whistle and say prolonged vowels during the procedure. The nasolaryngoscope is connected to a camera that records the movement of the vocal cords during these tasks.

Voice and speech recording to measure the type and severity of voice disorder. Subjects are asked questions about their voice disorder and their voice is recorded while they repeat sentences and sounds.

Participants undergo positron emission tomography (PET) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain, as follows:

PET: A catheter is placed in a vein in the subject s arm to inject a radioactive substance called a tracer that is detected by the PET scanner and provides information on brain function. [11C]flumazenil is used in one scanning session and [11C]raclopride is used in another. For the scan, the subject lies on a bed that slides in and out of the doughnut-shaped scanner, wearing a custom-molded mask to support the head and prevent it from moving during the scan. For the first scan the subject lies quietly for 60 minutes. For the second scan, the subject lies quietly for 50 minutes and is then asked to say sentences during another 50 minutes. The amount of radiation received in this study equals to a uniform whole-body exposure of 0.9 rem, which is within the dose guideline established by the NIH Radiation Safety Committee for research subjects. The guideline is an effective dose of 5 rem received per year.

MRI: This procedure uses a strong magnetic field and radio waves instead of X-rays to obtain images of the brain. The subject lies on a table that slides into the scanner, a narrow metal cylinder, wearing ear plugs to muffle loud knocking sounds that occur during the scan. Images of the brain structure are obtained while the subject lies still in the machine for 10 minutes. This is followed by functional MRI (fMRI) for 60 minutes, in which pictures are taken while the subject speaks, showing changes in brain regions that are involved in speech production.

Spasmodic Dysphonia
Focal Dystonia

Study Type: Observational
Study Design: Observational Model: Cohort
Time Perspective: Prospective
Official Title: Role of Neurotransmission and Functional CNS Networks in Spasmodic Dysphonia and Other Focal Dystonias

Resource links provided by NLM:

Further study details as provided by National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC):

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • Identify GABAergic and dopaminergic transmission in patients with spasmodic dysphonia and healthy subjects

Secondary Outcome Measures:
  • Determine the functional brain networks during speech and at rest in patients with spasmodic dysphonia compared to healthy subjects.

Enrollment: 37
Study Start Date: July 9, 2008
Estimated Study Completion Date: September 21, 2016
  Show Detailed Description


Ages Eligible for Study:   21 Years to 80 Years   (Adult, Senior)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No

Healthy research volunteers and adult patients with ADSD and WC will be eligible for the study.

  1. Adult patients with ADSD will have clinically documented ADSD established by voice and speech testing and fiberoptic nasolaryngoscopy.

    Patients will be required to have:

    • Intermittent uncontrolled voice breaks in vowels, liquids (r & l), semivowels (w & y) during speech in ADSD (at least 3 voice breaks), or
    • Less prominent symptoms during whisper, singing, falsetto, or shout;
    • Normal voice and vocal fold movement during protective laryngeal functions and emotional phonation, such as cough, laughter, cry.
  2. Adult patients with WC will have clinically documented WC established by history and neurological examination.
  3. Controls will be healthy subjects with a negative history of laryngeal, neurological, or psychiatric problems.
  4. All participants will be from 21 to 80 years old and right hand dominant.
  5. All participants should be able to perform a sequential finger-tapping task for 40 seconds consecutively


  1. Subjects who are incapable of giving an informed consent.
  2. Pregnant or breastfeeding women until a time when they are no longer pregnant or breastfeeding.
  3. Subjects with past or present medical history of (a) neurological problems, such as stroke, movement disorders (other than SD and WC in the patient group), brain tumors, traumatic brain injury with loss of consciousness, ataxias, myopathies, myasthenia gravis, demyelinating diseases, alcoholism, drug dependence; (b) psychiatric problems, such as schizophrenia, major and/or bipolar depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder; (c) laryngeal problems, such as vocal fold paralysis, paresis, vocal fold nodules and polyps, carcinoma, chronic laryngitis. (d) ventricular arrhythmias, renal and hepatic insufficiency, vascular headache, or carcinoid syndrome.
  4. Patients who are currently taking medications known to affect GABA and dopamine receptor binding. Occasionally, patients report receiving such medication, although dopaminergic and GABA agonist/antagonists are not typically prescribed in these patients.
  5. Patients who received treatment with botulinum toxin injections into the laryngeal muscles within the past 3 months.
  6. Patients with vocal and hand tremor or muscle tension dysphonia.
  7. Subjects who have tattoos with contraindications to MRI, ferromagnetic objects in their bodies (e.g., implanted stimulators, surgical clips, prosthesis, artificial heart valve, etc.) that cannot be removed for the purpose of study participation.
  8. Subjects who received previous radiation exposure greater than 5.0 rem per year.
  9. WC patients who experience focal hand dystonia at rest.
  10. WC patients who have focal hand dystonia associated with trauma or a known neuroanatomic lesion or disease.
  Contacts and Locations
Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the Contacts provided below. For general information, see Learn About Clinical Studies.

Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT00713414

United States, Maryland
National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, 9000 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, Maryland, United States, 20892
Sponsors and Collaborators
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Principal Investigator: Mark Hallett, M.D. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
  More Information

Publications: Identifier: NCT00713414     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: 080181
Study First Received: July 10, 2008
Last Updated: April 21, 2017

Keywords provided by National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC):
Spasmodic Dysphonia
Basal Ganglia
PET Imaging
Voice Disorder
Healthy Volunteer

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
Dystonic Disorders
Neurologic Manifestations
Nervous System Diseases
Signs and Symptoms
Movement Disorders
Central Nervous System Diseases
Voice Disorders
Laryngeal Diseases
Respiratory Tract Diseases
Otorhinolaryngologic Diseases
Respiration Disorders
Signs and Symptoms, Respiratory processed this record on April 27, 2017