Blog Archives

Developing Physiologic Stress Profiles for School-Age Children Who Stutter

: Results reflect an initial investigation into the use of salivary sampling to measure reactivity in children who stutter. As children who stutter have historically been excluded from physiologic stress studies, salivary sampling appears to provide an innovative and minimally invasive option for investigators. Though interpreted with caution secondary to the small sample size, initial findings suggest that in response to normal daily stressors, school-age children with a history of stuttering do not exhibit significantly elevated stress biomarkers.

from Journal of Fluency Disorders

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Language as a stressor in aphasia

Conclusions: Exploring the putative relationship between anxiety and language in aphasia, through the study of physiologic stress responses, could establish a platform for investigating language changes in the brain in other clinical populations, such as in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or persons with post-traumatic stress disorder, or even with healthy ageing persons, in whom “linguistic anxiety” might be at work when they have trouble finding words.

from Aphasiology

Rebalancing the commissural system: Mechanisms of vestibular compensation

Vestibular compensation after unilateral vestibular loss is a complex, multi-factored process involving synaptic and neuronal plasticity in many areas of the brain, and it is a challenge to identify the key sites of plasticity that determine the rate and extent of behavioural recovery. Experimental evidence strongly implicates the vestibular commissural inhibitory system which links the brainstem vestibular nuclei of the two sides, both in causing the initial severe oculomotor and postural symptoms of vestibular deafferentation, and in the subsequent recovery that takes place in the early stages of compensation. Of particular interest are changes in GABAergic neurotransmission within the commissural system, and the possibility that histaminergic drugs as well as stress steroids and neurosteroids that can modulate compensation, may do so at least in part by their effects on commissural inhibition. A fuller understanding of the role of the commissural system in compensation and the effects of GABAergic neuromodulators is likely to reveal the mechanisms of action of histamine in the vestibular system and the interactions between stress, anxiety and vestibular dysfunction.

from the Journal of Vestibular Research

Everyday Memory Compensation: The Impact of Cognitive Reserve, Subjective Memory, and Stress

To determine the potential importance of several unexplored covariates of everyday memory compensation, the authors examined relations between responses on the Memory Compensation Questionnaire (a self-report measure of everyday memory compensation) and cognitive reserve (education and verbal IQ), subjective memory, and life stress in 66 older adults (mean age = 70.55 years). Key results indicated that compensation occurred in people (a) whose IQ level was greater than their education level (representing cognitive reserve “discordance”) but not in people whose IQ was commensurate with their education (representing cognitive reserve “concordance”); (b) who had greater perceived memory errors; and (c) who experienced heightened stress. Further, high-stress older adults compensated whether perceived memory errors were low or high, but low-stress older adults compensated only if they perceived high memory errors. Bootstrapped confidence intervals around model betas provided further support for estimate reliability. These results suggest boundary conditions for the concept of cognitive reserve, and highlight the importance of subjective memory and life stress for defining contexts in which compensation may occur.

from Psychology and Aging

Beta-Adrenergic Blockade and Voice: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial

This study investigated the effects of laboratory-induced stress and beta-adrenergic blockade on acoustic and aerodynamic voice measures. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, 12 participants, six males and six females, underwent cold pressor-induced sympathetic activation followed by placebo or treatment with 40 mg propranolol. Aerodynamic and acoustic parameters of voice were collected at baseline, during cold pressor and after treatment with propranolol or placebo. Fundamental frequency, jitter, shimmer, maximum airflow declination rate, voice onset time, speaking rate, and subglottal pressure were measured at baseline, during cold pressor-induced stress, and after treatment with propranolol or placebo. Cardiovascular measures served as indicators of sympathetic nervous system (SNS) activation by cold pressor and antagonism by propranolol, and were collected during all conditions. Cold pressor appeared to adequately agonize the SNS as indicated by significant increases in resting systolic and diastolic blood pressure and heart rate. Propranolol appeared to adequately antagonize the SNS for the participants. Jitter ratio demonstrated a statistically significant increase in the participants treated with propranolol. Speaking rate demonstrated a small but significant increase in the placebo control group during cold pressor. Gender differences were observed in a few measures. Cold pressor adequately agonized and propranolol adequately antagonized the SNS. No statistically significant differences across subjects were observed in the voice parameters during cold pressor-induced stress before treatment. Jitter ratio increased significantly during propranolol treatment and cold pressor. Speaking rate demonstrated a statistically significant increase during cold pressor in the placebo control group. Gender differences were observed, but were few.

from the Journal of Voice

Beta-Adrenergic Blockade and Voice: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial

This study investigated the effects of laboratory-induced stress and beta-adrenergic blockade on acoustic and aerodynamic voice measures. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, 12 participants, six males and six females, underwent cold pressor-induced sympathetic activation followed by placebo or treatment with 40 mg propranolol. Aerodynamic and acoustic parameters of voice were collected at baseline, during cold pressor and after treatment with propranolol or placebo. Fundamental frequency, jitter, shimmer, maximum airflow declination rate, voice onset time, speaking rate, and subglottal pressure were measured at baseline, during cold pressor-induced stress, and after treatment with propranolol or placebo. Cardiovascular measures served as indicators of sympathetic nervous system (SNS) activation by cold pressor and antagonism by propranolol, and were collected during all conditions. Cold pressor appeared to adequately agonize the SNS as indicated by significant increases in resting systolic and diastolic blood pressure and heart rate. Propranolol appeared to adequately antagonize the SNS for the participants. Jitter ratio demonstrated a statistically significant increase in the participants treated with propranolol. Speaking rate demonstrated a small but significant increase in the placebo control group during cold pressor. Gender differences were observed in a few measures. Cold pressor adequately agonized and propranolol adequately antagonized the SNS. No statistically significant differences across subjects were observed in the voice parameters during cold pressor-induced stress before treatment. Jitter ratio increased significantly during propranolol treatment and cold pressor. Speaking rate demonstrated a statistically significant increase during cold pressor in the placebo control group. Gender differences were observed, but were few.

from the Journal of Voice

Learning under stress impairs memory formation

Converging lines of evidence indicate that stress either before or after learning influences memory. Surprisingly little is known about how memory is affected when people learn while they are stressed. Here, we examined the impact of learning under stress in 48 healthy young men and women. Participants were exposed to stress (socially evaluated cold pressor test) or a control condition while they learned emotional words and neutral words that were either conceptually associated with or unrelated to the stressor. Memory was assessed in free recall and recognition tests 24 hours after learning. Learning under stress reduced both free recall and recognition performance, irrespective of the emotionality and the stress context relatedness of the words. While the effect of stress was comparable in men and women, women outperformed men in the free recall test. These findings show a memory impairing effect of learning under stress in humans and challenge some assumptions of current theories about the impact of stress around the time of learning on memory formation.

from Neurobiology of Learning and Memory

Molecular aspects of tinnitus

Abstract
Molecular changes caused by sensory trauma and subsequent structural alterations of the central nervous system are only beginning to be identified. In most cases, the generation of tinnitus can be linked to damage of the peripheral auditory system, probably even in cases where hearing impairment cannot be assessed by audiometry. Within a common view, acoustic trauma and salicylate induce abnormal excitability at the level of the brainstem, subcortical and cortical level that may be related to tinnitus.The present review summarizes studies emphasizing a crucial role of molecular events that occur in the cochlea exhibiting the potential to alter the network activity in distinct areas of the brain, including the limbic system. We proceed from the inner ear to the auditory cortex and discuss the recent molecular findings in the central auditory system as a secondary step of previous neuronal changes in the periphery.

from Hearing Research

A qualitative longitudinal case study of a daughter’s adaptation process to her father’s aphasia and stroke

Conclusions: The results indicate that the experience of a daughter was an evolving process, involving negative and more positive consequences. The process of adaptation was influenced by the particular life situation of this participant, her perception of stresses, and the types of strategies she employed. These results show that children may be stressed by many changes associated with a stroke, such as communication limitations. When possible, adult children should be included in the rehabilitation process since they provide skills, abilities, and affection in caring for their parent with aphasia. These may contribute to the reduction of overall stress related to a family’s adaptation to the consequences of aphasia and stroke.

from Aphasiology

The speech focus position effect on jaw-finger coordination in a pointing task

from the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research

Purpose: This paper investigates jaw-finger coordination in a task involving pointing to a target while naming it with a ‘CVCV (e.g. /’papa/) vs. CV’CV (e.g. /pa’pa/) word. According to our working hypothesis, the pointing apex (gesture extremum) would be synchronized with the apex of the jaw opening gesture corresponding to the stressed syllable.

Method: Jaw and finger motions were recorded using Optotrak. The effects of stress position on jaw-finger coordination were tested across different target positions (near vs. far) and different consonants in the target word (/t/ vs. /p/). Twenty native Portuguese Brazilian speakers participated in the experiment (all conditions).

Results: Jaw response starts earlier and finger-target alignment period is longer for CV’CV words than for ‘CVCV ones. The apex of the jaw opening gesture for the stressed syllable appears synchronized to the onset of the finger-target alignment period (corresponding to the pointing apex) for ‘CVCV words, and with the offset of that period for CV’CV ones.

Conclusions: For both stress conditions, the stressed syllable occurs within the finger-target alignment period due to tight finger-jaw coordination. This result is interpreted as an evidence for an anchoring of the speech deictic site (part of speech that shows) in the pointing gesture.