Dysprosodic speech following basal ganglia insult: Toward a conceptual framework for the study of the cerebral representation of prosody

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Progress in understanding brain/behavior relationships in adult-acquired dysprosody has led to models of cortical hemispheric representation of prosodic processing based on functional (linguistic vs affective) or physical (timing vs pitch) parameters. These explanatory perspectives have not been reconciled, and also a number of neurobehavior syndromes that include dysprosody among their neurological signs have not yet been integrated. In addition to expanding the functional perspective on prosody, some of these syndromes have implicated a significant role of subcortical nuclei in prosodic competence. In this article, two patients with acquired dysprosodic speech following damage to basal ganglia nuclei were evaluated using behavioral, acoustic, cognitive, and radiographic approaches. Selective quantitative measures were performed on each individual’s performance to provide detailed verification and clarification of clinical observations, and to test hypotheses regarding prosodic function. These studies, combined with a review of related clinical research findings, exemplify the value of a broader perspective on the neurobehavioral dysfunction underlying acquired adult dysprosodic speech, and lead to a new, proposed conceptual framework for the cerebral representation of prosody.

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