Stress May Trigger Voice Disorders
Muscle tension dysphonia is one of the most common voice disorders. It occurs when the muscles around the larynx (voice box) are so tight during speaking that the voice box does not work efficiently, and the sound of your voice is changed. A new study suggests that stress-induced brain activations may lead to voice disorders such as muscle tension dysphonia.
Thirteen vocally healthy women participated in the study. The participants filled out a personality questionnaire and a ratings scale of negative emotional state. They were told to read various sentences in a normal voice and in a whisper. Then they were instructed to prepare a five-minute impromptu speech about why they were the best candidate for a job. This acted as a stressor. They were asked to read the same sentences again but never actually gave their speech.
The researchers took salivary cortisol samples before the speech
preparation, and in intervals until approximately 50 minutes later. They also used
MRI scans throughout the study to evaluate changes in brain activity.
The researchers found that participants with higher cortisol responses also showed brain activity that impacted the larynx region in the brain. This resulted in impacts on their vocal control, such as muscle tension dysphonia. They also had lower scores on aspects of extraversion.
The study was conducted by researchers from the University of
Missouri and the University of Kentucky. It was published online ahead of print
on May 2, 2019 in the journal Brain
Imaging and Behavior.