Brain structural changes in spasmodic dysphonia: A multimodal magnetic resonance imaging study

Parkinsonism Relat Disord. 2016 Apr;25:78-84. doi: 10.1016/j.parkreldis.2016.02.003. Epub 2016 Feb 4.


Introduction: The pathophysiology of spasmodic dysphonia is poorly understood. This study evaluated patterns of cortical morphology, basal ganglia, and white matter microstructural alterations in patients with spasmodic dysphonia relative to healthy controls.

Methods: T1-weighted and diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans were obtained from 13 spasmodic dysphonia patients and 30 controls. Tract-based spatial statistics was applied to compare diffusion tensor MRI indices (i.e., mean, radial and axial diffusivities, and fractional anisotropy) between groups on a voxel-by-voxel basis. Cortical measures were analyzed using surface-based morphometry. Basal ganglia were segmented on T1-weighted images, and volumes and diffusion tensor MRI metrics of nuclei were measured.

Results: Relative to controls, patients with spasmodic dysphonia showed increased cortical surface area of the primary somatosensory cortex bilaterally in a region consistent with the buccal sensory representation, as well as right primary motor cortex, left superior temporal, supramarginal and superior frontal gyri. A decreased cortical area was found in the rolandic operculum bilaterally, left superior/inferior parietal and lingual gyri, as well as in the right angular gyrus. Compared to controls, spasmodic dysphonia patients showed increased diffusivities and decreased fractional anisotropy of the corpus callosum and major white matter tracts, in the right hemisphere. Altered diffusion tensor MRI measures were found in the right caudate and putamen nuclei with no volumetric changes.

Conclusions: Multi-level alterations in voice-controlling networks, that included regions devoted not only to sensorimotor integration, motor preparation and motor execution, but also processing of auditory and visual information during speech, might have a role in the pathophysiology of spasmodic dysphonia.

Keywords: Basal ganglia; Cortical morphology; MRI; Spasmodic dysphonia; White matter microstructure.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anisotropy
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Dysphonia / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multimodal Imaging
  • Neuroimaging / methods