Processing emotional tone from speech in Parkinson's disease:
a role for the basal ganglia

Pell MD, Leonard CL.
School of Communication Sciences and Disorders,
McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Cogn Affect Behav Neurosci. 2003 Dec;3(4):275-88


In this study, individuals with Parkinson's disease were tested as a model for basal ganglia dysfunction to infer how these structures contribute to the processing of emotional speech tone (emotional prosody). Nondemented individuals with and without Parkinson's disease (n = 21/group) completed neuropsychological tests and tasks that required them to process the meaning of emotional prosody in various ways (discrimination, identification, emotional feature rating). Individuals with basal ganglia disease exhibited abnormally reduced sensitivity to the emotional significance of prosody in a range of contexts, a deficit that could not be attributed to changes in mood, emotional-symbolic processing, or estimated frontal lobe cognitive resource limitations in most conditions. On the basis of these and broader findings in the literature, it is argued that the basal ganglia provide a critical mechanism for reinforcing the behavioral significance of prosodic patterns and other temporal representations derived from cue sequences (Lieberman, 2000), facilitating cortical elaboration of these events.

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