Hypokinetic dysarthria (HD) is a common symptom of Parkinson's disease (PD) which does not respond well to PD treatments. We investigated acute effects of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) of the motor and auditory feedback area on HD in PD using acoustic analysis of speech.
We used 10 Hz and 1 Hz stimulation protocols and applied rTMS over the left orofacial primary motor area, the right superior temporal gyrus (STG), and over the vertex (a control stimulation site) in 16 PD patients with HD. A cross-over design was used. Stimulation sites and protocols were randomised across subjects and sessions. Acoustic analysis of a sentence reading task performed inside the MR scanner was used to evaluate rTMS-induced effects on motor speech. Acute fMRI changes due to rTMS were also analysed.
The 1 Hz STG stimulation produced significant increases of the relative standard deviation of the 2nd formant (p = 0.019), i.e. an acoustic parameter describing the tongue and jaw movements. The effects were superior to the control site stimulation and were accompanied by increased resting state functional connectivity between the stimulated region and the right parahippocampal gyrus. The rTMS-induced acoustic changes were correlated with the reading task-related BOLD signal increases of the stimulated area (R = 0.654, p = 0.029).
Our results demonstrate for the first time that low-frequency stimulation of the temporal auditory feedback area may improve articulation in PD and enhance functional connectivity between the STG and the cortical region involved in an overt speech control.