James Madison University

Neural Bases of Communication and Swallowing

Neural Bases of Communication and Swallowing Graphic

Focus of Lab


Research Goals: The long term goal of the laboratory is to develop improved understanding of the neural control and pathophysiology of voice, speech and swallowing disorders as a basis for innovative and effective approaches for the enhancement of voice, speech and swallowing rehabilitation. 

Research Methods: The laboratory uses state of the art techniques in clinical neurophysiology to determine the neural mechanisms involved in normal voice and swallowing control and how to enhance neuroplasticity for effective rehabilitation of disorders. 
Methods for assessing neural control in health and disease for voice and swallowing include:  

  • functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS),
  • transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS),
  • transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS),
  • miniature magnetometry for 3D oral movement transduction (Articulography),
  • videofluorography and
  • electromyography
  • aerodynamics and respiratory control.

Emphasis is on conducting Phase II controlled clinical trials to identify effective new mechanisms for neurorehabilitation of voice, speech and swallowing disorders.

Lab Staff
Pictured above: Standing from left to right: Sarah Hegyi, Shelly Sites, Kathryn White, Dwight Dart, Shiree Harbick, Karen Perta, Sonia Oh Seated from left to right: Rachel Mulheren, Laura Dickerson, Lara Karpinski, Dr. Christy Ludlow, Danielle Kaplan, Kristen Johnson

Contact Information:


Laboratory on Neural Bases of Communication and Swallowing
HHS  1009b, MSC 4304
Harrisonburg, VA 22807
Telephone: 540-568-5059
FAX: 540-568-8077

Members of the Lab


  • Dr. Christy L. Ludlow, Director
  • Shiree Harbick, M. S., Research Speech Pathologist
  • Sarah Hegyi, Ph.D. Student
  • Rachel Mulheren, Ph.D. Student
  • Kathryn White, Ph.D. Student
  • Katlin Kucala Graduate Student
  • Kristen Johnson, Graduate Student
  • Jennifer Gaglioti, Graduate Student
  • Christina Roa, Graduate Assistant
  • Kathryn Rohrer, Graduate Assistant
  • Lara Karpinski, Undergraduate Honors Student
  • Lora Hellman, Undergraduate Honors Student
  • Christine Albrecht, Undergraduate Research Assistant
  • Debra Leap, Lab Manager
PHOTO: Infant being tested

Current Funding


  • NIH Grant U54 NS065701, The Dystonia Coalition, Ludlow, CL Project Leader "Validity and Reliability of Diagnostic Methods and Measures of Spasmodic Dysphonia." September 2009-2014.
  • Passy Muir, Inc., Ludlow (PI) Psychophysiological Effects of Vibrotactile stimulation on swallowing and its neural control 08/01/ 2011-2012
  • Alfred Mann Foundation Ludlow (PI) Analyses of physiological effects of neural stimulation during chemoradiation in head and neck cancer 09/01/ 2011-2012
PHOTO: Neural Bases Lab

Recent Peer-Reviewed Journal Publications (2007-2011)


  • Ludlow CL, Humbert I, Saxon KG, Poletto CJ, Sonies B, Crujido L. Effects of surface electrical stimulation both at rest and during swallowing in chronic pharyngeal dysphagia, Dysphagia, 2007,22: 1-10.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1790908/?tool=pmcentrez
  • Loucks TMJ, Poletto CJ, Simonyan K, Reynolds CL, Ludlow CL. Human Brain Activation during Phonation and Exhalation: Common Volitional Control for Two Upper Airway Functions.  NeuroImage, 2007 May 15;36(1):131-43.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1959512/?tool=pmcentrez
  • Simonyan K, Saad ZS, Loucks TM, Poletto CJ, Ludlow CL.  Functional neuroanatomy of human voluntary cough and sniff production. NeuroImage 2007 Aug 15;37(2):401-9.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2018653/?tool=pmcentrez
  • Humbert IA, Poletto CJ, Saxon KG, Kearney KR, Ludlow CL.  The effect of surface electrical stimulation in vocal fold position. Laryngoscope, 2008 Jan;118(1):14-9.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2329805/?tool=pmcentrez
  • Ludlow CL, Hoit J, Kent R, Ramig LO, Shrivastav R, Strand E, Yorkston K, Sapienza C. Translating principles of neural plasticity into research on speech motor control recovery and rehabilitation. Journal of Speech-Language-Hearing Research, 2008 Feb;51(1):S240-58.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2364711/?tool=pmcentrez
  • Henriquez V., Schulz GM, Bielamowicz S, Ludlow CL. Laryngeal reflex responses are not modulated during human voice and respiratory tasks.  Journal of Physiology (London), 2007 Dec 15;585(Pt 3):779-89. Epub 2007 Oct 25.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2375523/?tool=pmcentrez
  • Chang S-E, Erickson KI, Ambrose NG, Hasegawa-Johnson MA, Ludlow CL.  Brain anatomy differences in childhood stuttering. NeuroImage , 2008 Feb 1;39(3):1333-44. Epub 2007 Oct 13.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2731627/?tool=pmcentrez
  • Simonyan K., Tovar-Moll F., Ostuni J, Hallett M, Kalasinsky VF, Lewin-Smith MR, Rushing EJ, Vortmeyer AO, Ludlow CL. Focal white matter changes in spasmodic dysphonia: a combined DTI and neuropathological study. Brain, 2008 Feb;131(Pt 2):447-59. Epub 2007 Dec 14.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2376833/?tool=pmcentrez
  • Lowell SY, Poletto CJ, Knorr-Chung, BR, Reynolds RC, Simonyan K, and Ludlow CL. Sensory stimulation activates both motor and sensory components of the swallowing system. Neuroimage, 2008 Aug 1;42(1):285-95.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2556067/?tool=pmcentrez
  • Simpson DM, Blitzer A, Brashear A, Comella C, Dubinsky R, Hallett M, Jankovic J, Karp B, Ludlow CL, Miyasaki JM, Naumann M, So Y. Assessment: Botulinum neurotoxin for the treatment of movement disorders (an evidence-based review): Report of the Therapeutics and Technology Assessment Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology. Neurology. 2008 May 6;70(19):1699-706.
  • Ludlow CL, Adler CH, Berke GS, Bielamowicz SA, Blitzer SB, Bressman SB, Hallett M, Jinnah HA, Juergens U,  Perlmutter JS, Sapienza C.  Research priorities in spasmodic dysphonia.  Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, 2008 Oct;139(4):495-505.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2643054/?tool=pmcentrez
  • Chang S-E, Synnestvedt A, Ostuni J, Ludlow CL. Similarities in speech and white matter characteristics in idiopathic developmental stuttering and adult-onset stuttering, Journal of Neurolinguistics, 2010 Sep 1;23(5):455-469.
  • *Blitzer AB, Crumley RL, Dailey SH, Ford CN, Floeter MK, Hillel AD, Hoffman HT, Ludlow CL, Merati A, Munin MC, Robinson LR, Rosen C, Saxon KG, Sulica L, Thibeault SL, Titze I, Woo P, Woodson GE. Recommendations of the Neurolaryngology Study Group on Laryngeal Electromyography.  Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2009 Jun;140(6):782-793. Epub 2009 Apr 9.*(Authors in alphabetical order)
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2758662/?tool=pmcentrez
  • Chang S-E, Kenney M.K., Loucks T.M.J., Ludlow C.L. Brain activation abnormalities during speech and non-speech in stuttering speakers, Neuroimage. 2009 May 15;46(1):201-12. Epub 2009 Feb 11
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2693291/?tool=pmcentrez
  • Ludlow C.L. Treatment for spasmodic dysphonia: limitation of current approaches, Curr Opin Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2009 Jun;17(3):160-5.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2763389/?tool=pmcentrez
  • Chang S-E., Kenney M.K., Loucks T.M.J., Poletto C.J., Ludlow C.L.  Common neural substrates support speech and non-speech vocal tract gestures, Neuroimage. 2009 Aug 1;47(1):314-25. Epub 2009 Mar 25.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2711766/?tool=pmcentrez
  • Feng X, Henriquez VM, Walters JR, Ludlow CL. Effects of dopamine D1 and D2 receptor antagonists on laryngeal neurophysiology in the rat, J Neurophysiol. 2009 Aug;102(2):1193-205. Epub 2009 Jun 17
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2724335/?tool=pmcentrez
  • Simonyan K, Ludlow C.L. Vortmeyer A. Brainstem pathology in spasmodic dysphonia. Laryngoscope. 2010 Jan;120 (1);121-4.
  • Simonyan K, Ostuni J, Ludlow CL, Horwitz, B. Functional but not structural networks of the human laryngeal motor cortex show left hemispheric lateralization during syllable but not breathing production. J Neurosci. 2009 Nov 25;29(47):14912-23
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2805075/?tool=pmcentrez
  • Ludlow C.L. Central nervous system control for human voice production.  Communicative Disorders Review, Vol 2, Plural Press, San Diego, 2009
  • Landouré G, Zdebik A.A, Martinez T.L., Burnett B.G., Stanescu H.C.,  Inada H.,   Shi Y., Taye A.A., Lingling Kong L.,   Munns C.H.,   Choo S.S.,   Phelps C.B., Reema Paudel8, Houlden, H., Ludlow C.L., Caterina M.J.,  Gaudet R.,   Kleta, R., Fischbeck K.H., and Sumner C. J. Mutations in TRPV4 cause Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type 2C. Nature Genetics,2010 Feb;42 (2):170-4.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2812627/?tool=pmcentrez
  • Simonyan K , Ludlow C.L. Abnormal Activation of the Primary Somatosensory Cortex in Spasmodic Dysphonia: An fMRI Study. Cerebral Cortex, 2010 Nov;20(11):2749-59.March 2010 epub
  • Zimon M, Baets J, Auer-Grumbach M, Berciano J, Garcia A, Lopez-Laso E, Merlin L, Hilton-Jones D, McEntagart M, Crosby AH, Barisic N, Boltshauser E, Shaw CE, Landoure G, Ludlow CL, Gaudet R, Houlden H, Reilly MM, Fischbeck KH, Sumner CJ, Timmerman B, Jordanova A, Jonghe PD. Dominant mutations in the cation channel gene transient receptor vanilloid 4 cause an unusual spectrum of neuropathies. Brain 2010 Jun;133(Pt 6):1798-809.
  • Ludlow CL Electrical neuromuscular stimulation in dysphagia: current status. Curr Opin Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2010 Jun; 18 (3): 159-164.
  • Ludlow CL Electrical neuromuscular stimulation in dysphagia: current status. Curr Opin Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2010 Jun; 18 (3): 159-164.
  • Ludlow, CKL. Spasmodic dysphonia: a laryngeal control disorder specific to speech . J Neuroscience 2011, Jan 19: 31 (3) 793-797.
  • Chang SE,  Horwitz B,  Ostuni J, Reynolds R and Ludlow CL Evidence of left inferior frontal-premotor structural and functional connectivity deficits in adults who stutter. Cerebral Cortex, Apr 18. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Simonyan K and Ludlow CL Abnormal structure-function relationship in spasmodic dysphonia. Cerebral Cortex, epub ahead of print June 2011
  • Ludlow CL. Central nervous system control of interactions between vocalization and respiration in mammals. Head & Neck, in press, 2011

Recent Book


Ludlow CL and Kent R. Building a Research Career, Plural Publishing, 2011, San Diego, CA

Currently Recruiting Participants for Ongoing Studies on:


  • Sensory Modification of Swallowing
  • Comparing perception with production training for speech/voice therapy
  • An Exploration of Swallowing Stimulation in the Infant
  • Brain Laterality for Swallowing
PHOTO: Neural Bases Lab

Please Contact: The Laboratory of Neural Bases of Communication and Swallowing
James Madison University
Phone: 540.568.5059