Journal of Neural Transmission

, Volume 117, Issue 2, pp 197–205 | Cite as

Short- and long-term dopaminergic effects on dysarthria in early Parkinson’s disease

Movement Disorders - Original Article


While the beneficial effect of levodopa on motor impairment in Parkinson’s disease (PD) has been well documented, its effect on speech has rarely been examined and the respective literature is inconclusive. The aim of our study was to analyze the effect of short-term levodopa admission and long-term dopaminergic treatment on speech in PD patients in early stages of the disease. Motor examination according to UPDRS III and speech testing were performed in 23 PD patients (9 males; median age 68, 42–78 years) in the early morning after having abstained from dopaminergic medication overnight (“off” state, t0) after administration of 200 mg of soluble levodopa (t1), and at follow-up after 12–14 weeks under stable dopaminergic medication (t2). Speech examination comprised the perceptual rating of global speech performance and an acoustical analysis based upon a standardized reading task. While UPDRS III showed a significant amelioration after l-dopa application, none of the parameters of phonation, intonation, articulation and speech velocity improved significantly in the “on” state, neither under short-term levodopa administration (t1) nor on stable dopaminergic treatment (t2). However, there was a positive effect of dopaminergic stimulation on vowel articulation in individual patients. Results indicated significant beneficial effect of short-term levodopa administration or long-term dopaminergic medication on different dimensions of speech in PD patients. As some improvement of vowel articulation was seen in individual patients, the pre-existing pattern of speech impairment might be responsible for the different response to pharmacological treatment.


Parkinson’s disease Dysarthria Speech disorders Levodopa effects on speech 



This work was supported by financial support of the Deutsche Parkinson Vereinigung/DPV.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


Fundamental frequency (F0)

Frequency of the oscillation of the vocal cords, perceived as “pitch”

Mean F0

Average fundamental frequency in the course of speaking


Variation of pitch while speaking which is not used to distinguish words; intonation and stress are two main elements of linguistic prosody


The rhythm, stress, and intonation of speech

Intonation variability

Temporal course of pitch


Measure of intonation variability, defined as standard deviation of fundamental frequency


Tongue, lips, jaw, and other speech organs involved in making a sound

Stop consonant

Group of consonants produced by a sudden occlusion of the articulators

Speech rate

Measure of articulatory velocity, defined as number of syllables per time

Net speech rate

Number of syllables related to net speech time (total speech time less speech pauses)

Pause ratio (PR%)

Percentage of silent periods related to total speech time


Sound waves superimposed to the fundamental frequency, which are produced by resonance phenomena in the voice apparatus and important for the distinction of vowels; the formant with the lowest frequency is called F 1, the second F 2, and the third F 3. Most often the two-first formants, F 1 and F 2, are enough to disambiguate the vowel


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Neurology, KnappschaftskrankenhausRuhr-University of BochumBochumGermany

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