Effects of vocal training on thyroarytenoid muscle neuromuscular junctions and myofibers in young and older rats

Adrianna C. Shembel, Charles Lenell, Sophia Chen, Aaron M. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The purpose of this investigation was to determine the effects of vocal training on neuromuscular junction (NMJ) morphology and muscle fiber size and composition in the thyroarytenoid muscle, the primary muscle in the vocal fold, in younger (9-month) and older (24-month) Fischer 344 × Brown Norway male rats. Over 4 or 8 weeks of vocal training, rats of both ages progressively increased their daily number of ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) through operant conditioning and were then compared to an untrained control group. Neuromuscular junction morphology and myofiber size and composition were measured from the thyroarytenoid muscle. Acoustic analysis of USVs before and after training quantified the functional effect of training. Both 4- and 8-week training resulted in less NMJ motor endplate dispersion in the lateral portion of the thyroarytenoid muscle in rats of both ages. Vocal training and age had no significant effects on laryngeal myofiber size or type. Vocal training resulted in a greater number of USVs with longer duration and increased intensity. This study demonstrated that vocal training induces laryngeal NMJ morphology and acoustic changes. The lack of significant effects of vocal training on muscle fiber type and size suggests vocal training significantly improves neuromuscular efficiency but does not significantly influence muscle strength changes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)244-252
Number of pages9
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Acoustics
  • Laryngeal muscle
  • Neuromuscular junction
  • Presbyphonia
  • Vocal fold atrophy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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