Skip to main content

The Voice, Airway, Swallowing Translational (VAST) Research Lab is an energetic group of researchers engaged in a variety of research projects, in collaboration with partners both within and outside the University of Utah.

P50 Project 1: Characterization of clinical phenotypes of laryngeal dystonia and voice tremor

In collaboration with Massachusetts Eye & Ear, and the University of California, San Francisco, the VAST Research Lab is a recipient of a P50 Center Grant from the National Institute of Health (NIH). The grant was awarded for the purpose of studying and comparing the clinical features of voice tremor, and laryngeal dystonia. We hope through this multi-site study to increase our knowledge of these disorders, and improve diagnostic classification for better patient outcomes.

P50 Sites

The multi-site fun involved in our P50 projects includes a variety of different procedures that our fabulous participants engage with us in. The center grant itself is further divided into three projects: Project 1 is completed solely at the University of Utah. Project 2 is completed across the MEE and UCSF sites, and Project 3 takes place at all sites simultaneously.

After completing a comprehensive neurological assessment and clinical voice work-up, we complete two experimental procedures. Here below are a few photos showcasing the many pieces that make up the whole of P50 Project 1:


Prior to starting data collection, respiratory bands are placed on rib cage and abdomen and spirometry readings are take to calibrate the bands to the subject's airflow volumes. This allows us to measure chest wall movement during speech and voicing and potentially detect tremor in the respiratory system.



Spiro Cal

After LEMG is in place, but before we begin data collection, our study team verifies that each electrode has been placed correctly and that our LEMG signals are providing the data we need.


EMG verify

Once respiratory kinematics have been calibrated, one of our study laryngologists places laryngeal electromyography (LEMG) fine wire electrodes into laryngeal musculature to measure muscle engagement and activity during voicing.

EMG Place

Finally, once we have verified the placement of the LEMG electrodes, we place a head-mounted microphone on our participant to record their voice during the experimental procedure, and we perform nasoendoscopy to record video of laryngeal movement simultaneous to the other physiologic signals we are acquiring. Once the nasoendoscope is in place, the recording of data is brief - around ten minutes - but the amount of simultaneous data we are able to acquire is incredible. 

physio all

The second experimental procedure in the P50 Project 1 is a dynamic MRI recording session in which we have our participants complete a variety of voice and speech tasks while we capture real time imaging of their speech structures to measure rate and extent of tremor, or identify presence of laryngeal dystonia. The above video clips are examples of the recordings we are able to take. 

Contact Us

Julie Barkmeier-Kraemer, PhD
Professor, Department of Otolaryngology, Head & Neck Surgery
Adjunct Faculty, Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders
Phone: 801-585-7143

To Contact the VAST Lab: 801-213-7317
Imaging & Neurosciences Building
729 Arapeen Drive
Salt Lake City, UT 84108