For better or worse: The effect of levodopa on speech in Parkinson's disease Academic Article uri icon


  • While the beneficial effect of levodopa on traditional motor control tasks have been well documented over the decades, its effect on speech motor control has rarely been objectively examined and the existing literature remains inconclusive. This paper aims to examine the effect of levodopa on speech in patients with Parkinson's disease. It was hypothesized that levodopa would improve preparatory motor set related activity and alleviate hypophonia. Patients fasted and abstained from levodopa overnight. Motor examination and speech testing was performed the following day, pre-levodopa during their "off" state, then at hourly intervals post-medication to obtain the best "on" state. All speech stimuli showed a consistent tendency for increased loudness and faster rate during the "on" state, but this was accompanied by a greater extent of intensity decay. Pitch and articulation remained unchanged. Levodopa effectively upscaled the overall gain setting of vocal amplitude and tempo, similar to its well-known effect on limb movement. However, unlike limb movement, this effect on the final acoustic product of speech may or may not be advantageous, depending on the existing speech profile of individual patients.

publication date

  • March 15, 2008