Intrinsic laryngeal muscle activity in response to autonomic nervous system activation

Authors

  • Leah B. Helou MA,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Communication Science and Disorders, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
    • Send correspondence to Leah B. Helou, MA, Department of Communication Science and Disorders, University of Pittsburgh, 4033 Forbes Tower, Pittsburgh, PA 15260. E-mail: lbh7@pitt.edu

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  • Wei Wang MD, PhD,

    1. Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
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  • Robin C. Ashmore PhD,

    1. Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
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  • Clark A. Rosen MD,

    1. Department of Otolaryngology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
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  • Katherine Verdolini Abbott PhD

    1. Department of Communication Science and Disorders, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
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  • Presented at the 2011 Fall Voice Conference held in conjunction with the International Association of Phonosurgery, San Francisco, California, U.S.A., November 2–5, 2011.

  • Financial support for this study was partially provided by Research Development Funds associated with the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation and National Institutes of Health grants 1R01DC008567-01A2, 3R01NS050256-05S1, and KL2 RR024154.

  • The authors have no other funding, financial relationships, or conflicts of interest to disclose.

Abstract

Objectives/Hypothesis

To determine whether the intrinsic laryngeal muscles exhibit a response to induced autonomic nervous system (ANS) activation, and to characterize responses that may occur.

Study Design

Prospective within-subjects study.

Methods

A cold pressor (CP) task was used to trigger a whole-body ANS response in eight vocally normal adult females. Surface electromyography of the trapezius muscle and bipolar hook-wire electromyography of intrinsic laryngeal muscles, as well as cardiovascular measures of heart rate (HR) and blood pressure (systolic [SBP] and diastolic [DBP]), were used to characterize participants' response to CP exposure compared to at-rest baseline.

Results

Cardiovascular response to the CP task was confirmed for subjects via HR or blood pressure measures. Post hoc Bonferroni analysis confirmed statistically significant increases in HR (P = .027), SBP (P < .001), and DBP (P < .001) during the CP task as compared to baseline. Concurrent increases in muscle activity were generally observed in trapezius, posterior cricoarytenoid, bilateral thyroarytenoid/lateral cricoarytenoid muscle complex, and bilateral cricothyroid muscles for each subject. Three individuals elected to repeat the CP task and displayed the same pattern of laryngeal response as observed in their first exposure. Results for repeated baseline measures obtained after the cessation of the CP task were compared to pre-CP baseline. Overall laryngeal activation remained even after the cardiovascular response was attenuated.

Conclusions

Results are consistent with the suggestion that human laryngeal muscles exhibit an elevated level of activation concurrent with ANS activation, and endorse the putative link between laryngeal muscle tension and acute stress. Findings are replicable within a subset of three individuals.

Level of Evidence

4. Laryngoscope, 123:2756–2765, 2013

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