In overt reading and singing tasks, actual vocalization of words in a rhythmic fashion is performed. During execution of these tasks, the role of underlying vascular processes in relation to cortical excitability changes in a spatial manner is uncertain. Our objective was to investigate cortical excitability changes during reading and singing with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), as well as vascular changes with nearinfrared spectroscopy (NIRS). Findings with TMS and NIRS were correlated. TMS and NIRS recordings were performed in 5 normal subjects while they performed reading and singing tasks separately. TMS was applied over the left motor cortex at 9 positions 2.5 cm apart. NIRS recordings were made over these identical positions. Although both TMS and NIRS showed significant mean cortical excitability and hemodynamic changes from baseline during vocalization tasks, there was no significant spatial correlation of these changes evaluated with the 2 techniques over the left motor cortex. Our findings suggest that increased left-sided cortical excitability from overt vocalization tasks in the corresponding “hand area” were the result of “functional connectivity,” rather than an underlying “vascular overflow mechanism” from the adjacent speech processing or face/mouth areas. Our findings also imply that functional neurophysiological and vascular methods may evaluate separate underlying processes, although subjects performed identical vocalization tasks. Future research combining similar methodologies should embrace this aspect and harness their separate capabilities.
Lo and Gabriel are with the Dept. of Neurology, Lo is with the National Neuroscience Institute, and Fook-Chong is with the Dept. of Clinical Research, Singapore General Hospital, 169608 Singapore. Zhang, Wang, Chin, and Guan are with the Neural Signal Processing Laboratory, Institute for Infocomm Research, Singapore.