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Slide Slam C14 Sandbox Series

The Protecting Effect of Singing on Communication and Cognition in Aging: Behavioural and Brain-Imaging Data Analysis

Slide Slam Session C, Tuesday, October 5, 2021, 12:30 - 3:00 pm PDT Log In to set Timezone

Xiyue Zhang1,2, Pascale Tremblay1,2; 1CERVO Brain Research Center, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada, 2Département de Réadaptation, Université Laval, Faculté de Médecine, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada

Introduction. Voice and speech production can deteriorate significantly with age [1,2], with impact on communication-mediated activities and social participation. Though the exact cause of these dysfunctions remains unknown, previous studies have shown functional and structural changes, including in the insula, premotor cortex and supratemporal cortex, that correlate with changes in speech production performance, suggesting that changes to speech functions have a central origin. Normal and pathological aging are also associated with decreased resting-state functional connectivity in multiple networks, but the impact of these decline on speech skills, if any, is unknown. Despite important decline, the adult human brain retains a remarkable capacity to modify its organization in an enduring manner throughout the lifespan, as a correlate of skill acquisition, a phenomenon known as experience-dependent brain plasticity. Yet, very little is known about how age and experience can have a transformative effect on the neural speech system. One promising avenue of research focuses on the mediating impact of singing on voice and articulation decline in aging, through neuroplastic changes. Understanding the mechanism of action of singing could contribute to the development of new neurorehabilitation interventions for communication difficulties in aging. The goal of our study is to evaluate the effects of brain aging on voice and speech production in aging singers and non-singers. The specific aim is (1) to use magnetic resonance imaging to unravel resting-state connectivity differences between singers and non-singers to understand underlying plasticity mechanisms and (2) examine how potential differences in brain connectivity relate to age-related decline in voice production and articulation. The main hypothesis is that singing will have a positive impact on the relationship of age to voice production and articulation, meaning that singing will attenuate the effect of aging on communication through its impact on resting-state connectivity. Methods. 41 singers aged 22 to 87 years (mean 55 ± 19 years; 27 females) and 43 non-singers aged 20 to 86 years (54 ± 20 years; 22 females) were recruited in Québec City. The singers had 2 to 62 years of continuous choral singing experience (mean 17.68 ± 14.14 years). Participants completed speech tasks including passage reading, vowel production and nonword repetition. Participants were scanned on a 3T MRI scanner (Philips Achieva). T1-weighted images (1mm3) and resting-state data (TR/TE = 2500/30 ms, 200 volumes, 3 mm3). Cardiac beat and respiration were measured during the sequence. To address Objective 1, the resting-state data will be pre-processed to remove motion, breathing and cardiac oscillations. Next, the resting-state fMRI data will be analyzed using a seed-based approach. The primary seed will be selected based on results from prior speech experiments in our lab. All connected seeds will be mapped on a Functional Connectivity Map for singers and non-singers respectively. The resting-state networks will also be examined using a whole-brain ICA approach. We expect to find the difference of resting-state networks between singers and non-singers. Data collection is terminated but analyses have recently begun. Preliminary results will be available at the meeting. Reference [1] Tremblay, 2016. BrainStructFunct [2] Tremblay, 2018. PsycholAging

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