Rhythmic priming stimuli

Most individuals with Parkinson’s disease (PD) suffer from speech production impairments. The impairments need to be addressed as they decrease the communicative abilities of individuals with PD and affect their social life. The current project aims at exploring the relevance of rhythmic priming (i.e. listening to rhythmic auditory stimuli before speech production) to rehabilitate speech impairments in PD. We will address this issue by using a combination of psychological, linguistic and neuroscientific approaches and by investigating behavioral and electrophysiological (EEG) measures.

The project focuses on dysprosody, a disorder that is often reported in PD but has received little attention in the field of speech and language therapy. We will examine the effect of various types of rhythmic priming on speech production from a phonetic, phonological and intelligibility perspective. Moreover, we will characterize the underlying neurocognitive mechanisms. To do so, we will examine the role of the basal ganglia versus the cerebellum. In addition, we will study stimulus-brain entrainment to better understand how rhythmic priming modulates speech production. We will also examine how individual differences in musical and attentional abilities and the degree of disability related to PD impact the benefit of rhythmic priming. These various investigations will help to (1) better understand how perception of rhythm modulates speech production and (2) evaluate the relevance of methods based on rhythmic priming in speech and language therapy.

This project will have a strong theoretical impact as it will shed new light on the perception-production and music-language links, thus adding to current models of speech production. Beyond its scientific contribution, the project will hopefully help develop personalized and cost-effective behavioral interventions to manage speech production impairments in PD.

(Taken from the project website)

Leonardo Contreras Roa
Leonardo Contreras Roa
Associate Professor in English Phonetics and Phonology

Phonetician and English teacher, PhD in Linguistics