Atypical vocal quality in women with the FMR1 premutation: an indicator of impaired sensorimotor control

Laura Friedman, Meagan Lauber, Roozbeh Behroozmand, Daniel Fogerty, Dariusz Kunecki, Elizabeth Berry-Kravis, Jessica Klusek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Women with the FMR1 premutation are susceptible to motor involvement related to atypical cerebellar function, including risk for developing fragile X tremor ataxia syndrome. Vocal quality analyses are sensitive to subtle differences in motor skills but have not yet been applied to the FMR1 premutation. This study examined whether women with the FMR1 premutation demonstrate differences in vocal quality, and whether such differences relate to FMR1 genetic, executive, motor, or health features of the FMR1 premutation. Participants included 35 women with the FMR1 premutation and 45 age-matched women without the FMR1 premutation who served as a comparison group. Three sustained /a/ vowels were analyzed for pitch (mean F0), variability of pitch (standard deviation of F0), and overall vocal quality (jitter, shimmer, and harmonics-to-noise ratio). Executive, motor, and health indices were obtained from direct and self-report measures and genetic samples were analyzed for FMR1 CGG repeat length and activation ratio. Women with the FMR1 premutation had a lower pitch, larger pitch variability, and poorer vocal quality than the comparison group. Working memory was related to harmonics-to-noise ratio and shimmer in women with the FMR1 premutation. Vocal quality abnormalities differentiated women with the FMR1 premutation from the comparison group and were evident even in the absence of other clinically evident motor deficits. This study supports vocal quality analyses as a tool that may prove useful in the detection of early signs of motor involvement in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1975-1987
Number of pages13
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2023


  • Acoustic analysis
  • Fragile X-associated tremor/ataxia syndrome
  • Fundamental frequency
  • Neurodegenerative disease
  • Voice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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