Atypical Activation of Laryngeal Somatosensory-Motor Cortex during Vocalization in People with Unexplained Chronic Cough

Stephanie Misono, Jiapeng Xu, Jinseok Oh, Anna Sombrio, Ali Stockness, Arash Mahnan, Jürgen Konczak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Importance: Unexplained chronic cough is common and has substantial negative quality-of-life implications, yet its causes are not well understood. A better understanding of how peripheral and central neural processes contribute to chronic cough is essential for treatment design. Objective: To determine if people with chronic cough exhibit signs of abnormal neural processing over laryngeal sensorimotor cortex during voluntary laryngeal motor activity such as vocalization. Design, Setting, and Participants: This was a cross-sectional study of a convenience sample of participants with chronic cough and healthy participants. Testing was performed in an acoustically and electromagnetically shielded chamber. In a single visit, electroencephalographic (EEG) signals were recorded from participants with chronic cough and healthy participants during voice production. The chronic cough group participants presented with unexplained cough of 8 weeks or longer duration with prior medical evaluation including negative results of chest imaging. None of the participants had a history of any neurologic disease known to impair vocalization or swallowing. Data collection for the healthy control group occurred from February 2 to June 28, 2018, and for the chronic cough group, from November 22, 2021, to June 21, 2022. Data analysis was performed from May 1 to October 30, 2022. Exposure: Participants with or without chronic cough. Main Outcome Measures: Event-related spectral perturbation over the laryngeal area of somatosensory-motor cortex from 0 to 30 Hz (ie, θ, α, and β bands) and event-related coherence as a measure of synchronous activity between somatosensory and motor cortical regions. Results: The chronic cough group comprised 13 participants with chronic cough (mean [SD] age, 63.5 [7.8] years; 9 women and 4 men) and the control group, 10 healthy age-matched individuals (mean [SD] age, 60.3 [13.9] years; 6 women and 4 men). In the chronic cough group, the typical movement-related desynchronization over somatosensory-motor cortex during vocalization was significantly reduced across θ, α, and β frequency bands when compared with the control group. Conclusions and Relevance: This cross-sectional study found that the typical movement-related suppression of brain oscillatory activity during vocalization is weak or absent in people with chronic cough. Thus, chronic cough affects sensorimotor cortical activity during the asymptomatic voluntary activation of laryngeal muscles..

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)820-827
Number of pages8
JournalJAMA Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 14 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 American Medical Association. All rights reserved.

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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