Publications

    J. H. Van Stan, D. D. Mehta, S. M. Zeitels, J. A. Burns, A. M. Barbu, and R. E. Hillman, “Average ambulatory measures of sound pressure level, fundamental frequency, and vocal dose do not differ between adult females with phonotraumatic lesions and matched control subjects,” Annals of Otology, Rhinology, and Laryngology, vol. 124, pp. 864-874, 2015.Abstract

    Objectives: Clinical management of phonotraumatic vocal fold lesions (nodules, polyps) is based largely on assumptions that abnormalities in habitual levels of sound pressure level (SPL), fundamental frequency (f0), and/or amount of voice use play a major role in lesion development and chronic persistence. This study used ambulatory voice monitoring to evaluate if significant differences in voice use exist between patients with phonotraumatic lesions and normal matched controls.Methods: Subjects were 70 adult females: 35 with vocal fold nodules or polyps and 35 age-, sex-, and occupation-matched normal individuals. Weeklong summary statistics of voice use were computed from anterior neck surface acceleration recorded using a smartphone-based ambulatory voice monitor.Results: Paired t tests and Kolmogorov-Smirnov tests resulted in no statistically significant differences between patients and matched controls regarding average measures of SPL, f0, vocal dose measures, and voicing/voice rest periods. Paired t tests comparing f0 variability between the groups resulted in statistically significant differences with moderate effect sizes.Conclusions: Individuals with phonotraumatic lesions did not exhibit differences in average ambulatory measures of vocal behavior when compared with matched controls. More refined characterizations of underlying phonatory mechanisms and other potentially contributing causes are warranted to better understand risk factors associated with phonotraumatic lesions.

    M. Ghassemi, et al., “Corrections to "Learning to detect vocal hyperfunction from ambulatory neck-surface acceleration features: Initial results for vocal fold nodules,” IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, vol. 62, no. 10, pp. 2544-2544, 2015. Publisher's VersionAbstract

    In, the third sentence of the second paragraph in Section III-D should have read as follows: “We first divided data using leave-one-out cross validation (LOOCV) to generate 12 subject subsets, where each subject subset consisted of randomly selected data across the 12 pairs. For each test subset, all windows from the 11 other subsets were then subdivided using fivefold cross validation (1/5th validation and 4/5th training in each fold).”

    Y. - A. S. Lien, et al., “Voice relative fundamental frequency via neck-skin acceleration in individuals with voice disorders,” Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, vol. 58, no. 5, pp. 1482-1487, 2015. Publisher's VersionAbstract

    Abstract Purpose: This study investigated the use of neck-skin acceleration for relative fundamental frequency (RFF) analysis. Method: Forty individuals with voice disorders associated with vocal hyperfunction and 20 age- and sex-matched control participants were recorded with a subglottal neck-surface accelerometer and a microphone while producing speech stimuli appropriate for RFF. Rater reliabilities, RFF means, and RFF standard deviations derived from the accelerometer were compared with those derived from the microphone. Results: RFF estimated from the accelerometer had slightly higher intrarater reliability and identical interrater reliability compared with values estimated with the microphone. Although sensor type and the Vocal Cycle × Sensor and Vocal Cycle × Sensor × Group interactions showed significant effects on RFF means, the typical RFF pattern could be derived from either sensor. For both sensors, the RFF of individuals with vocal hyperfunction was lower than that of the controls. Sensor type and its interactions did not have significant effects on RFF standard deviations. Conclusions: RFF can be reliably estimated using an accelerometer, but these values cannot be compared with those collected via microphone. Future studies are needed to determine the physiological basis of RFF and examine the effect of sensors on RFF in practical voice assessment and monitoring settings.

    D. D. Mehta, et al., “Using ambulatory voice monitoring to investigate common voice disorders: Research update,” Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology, vol. 3, no. 155, pp. 1-14, 2015. Publisher's VersionAbstract

    Many common voice disorders are chronic or recurring conditions that are likely to result from inefficient and/or abusive patterns of vocal behavior, referred to as vocal hyperfunction. The clinical management of hyperfunctional voice disorders would be greatly enhanced by the ability to monitor and quantify detrimental vocal behaviors during an individual’s activities of daily life. This paper provides an update on ongoing work that uses a miniature accelerometer on the neck surface below the larynx to collect a large set of ambulatory data on patients with hyperfunctional voice disorders (before and after treatment) and matched-control subjects. Three types of analysis approaches are being employed in an effort to identify the best set of measures for differentiating among hyperfunctional and normal patterns of vocal behavior: (1) ambulatory measures of voice use that include vocal dose and voice quality correlates, (2) aerodynamic measures based on glottal airflow estimates extracted from the accelerometer signal using subject-specific vocal system models, and (3) classification based on machine learning and pattern recognition approaches that have been used successfully in analyzing long-term recordings of other physiological signals. Preliminary results demonstrate the potential for ambulatory voice monitoring to improve the diagnosis and treatment of common hyperfunctional voice disorders.

    J. H. Van Stan, D. D. Mehta, and R. E. Hillman, “The effect of voice ambulatory biofeedback on the daily performance and retention of a modified vocal motor behavior in participants with normal voices,” Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, vol. 58, no. 3, pp. 713-721, 2015. Publisher's VersionAbstract

    Purpose Ambulatory biofeedback has potential to improve carryover of newly established vocal motor behaviors into daily life outside of the clinic and warrants systematic research that is lacking in the literature. This proof-of-concept study was designed to establish an empirical basis for future work in this area by formally assessing whether ambulatory biofeedback reduces daily vocal intensity (performance) and the extent to which this change remains after biofeedback removal (retention). Method Six participants with normal voices wore the KayPENTAX Ambulatory Phonation Monitor for 3 baseline days followed by 4 days with biofeedback provided on odd days. Results Compared to baseline days, participants exhibited a statistically significant decrease in mean vocal intensity (4.4 dB) and an increase in compliance (16.8 percentage points) when biofeedback was provided above a participant-specific intensity threshold. After biofeedback removal, mean vocal intensity and compliance reverted back to baseline levels. Conclusions These findings suggest that although current ambulatory biofeedback approaches have potential to modify a vocal motor behavior, the modified behavior may not be retained after biofeedback removal. Future work calls for the testing of more innovative ambulatory biofeedback approaches on the basis of motor control and learning theories to improve retention of a desired vocal motor behavior.

    M. Ghassemi, et al., “Learning to detect vocal hyperfunction from ambulatory neck-surface acceleration features: Initial results for vocal fold nodules,” IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, vol. 61, no. 6, pp. 1668-1675, 2014. Publisher's VersionAbstract

    Voice disorders are medical conditions that often result from vocal abuse/misuse which is referred to generically as vocal hyperfunction. Standard voice assessment approaches cannot accurately determine the actual nature, prevalence, and pathological impact of hyperfunctional vocal behaviors because such behaviors can vary greatly across the course of an individual's typical day and may not be clearly demonstrated during a brief clinical encounter. Thus, it would be clinically valuable to develop noninvasive ambulatory measures that can reliably differentiate vocal hyperfunction from normal patterns of vocal behavior. As an initial step toward this goal we used an accelerometer taped to the neck surface to provide a continuous, noninvasive acceleration signal designed to capture some aspects of vocal behavior related to vocal cord nodules, a common manifestation of vocal hyperfunction. We gathered data from 12 female adult patients diagnosed with vocal fold nodules and 12 control speakers matched for age and occupation. We derived features from weeklong neck-surface acceleration recordings by using distributions of sound pressure level and fundamental frequency over 5-min windows of the acceleration signal and normalized these features so that intersubject comparisons were meaningful. We then used supervised machine learning to show that the two groups exhibit distinct vocal behaviors that can be detected using the acceleration signal. We were able to correctly classify 22 of the 24 subjects, suggesting that in the future measures of the acceleration signal could be used to detect patients with the types of aberrant vocal behaviors that are associated with hyperfunctional voice disorders.

    M. Zañartu, J. C. Ho, D. D. Mehta, R. E. Hillman, and G. R. Wodicka, “Subglottal impedance-based inverse filtering of voiced sounds using neck surface acceleration,” IEEE Transactions on Audio, Speech, and Language Processing, vol. 21, pp. 1929-1939, 2013.Abstract

    A model-based inverse filtering scheme is proposed for an accurate, non-invasive estimation of the aerodynamic source of voiced sounds at the glottis. The approach, referred to as subglottal impedance-based inverse filtering (IBIF), takes as input the signal from a lightweight accelerometer placed on the skin over the extrathoracic trachea and yields estimates of glottal airflow and its time derivative, offering important advantages over traditional methods that deal with the supraglottal vocal tract. The proposed scheme is based on mechano-acoustic impedance representations from a physiologically-based transmission line model and a lumped skin surface representation. A subject-specific calibration protocol is used to account for individual adjustments of subglottal impedance parameters and mechanical properties of the skin. Preliminary results for sustained vowels with various voice qualities show that the subglottal IBIF scheme yields comparable estimates with respect to current aerodynamics-based methods of clinical vocal assessment. A mean absolute error of less than 10% was observed for two glottal airflow measures—maximum flow declination rate and amplitude of the modulation component—that have been associated with the pathophysiology of some common voice disorders caused by faulty and/or abusive patterns of vocal behavior (i.e., vocal hyperfunction). The proposed method further advances the ambulatory assessment of vocal function based on the neck acceleration signal, that previously have been limited to the estimation of phonation duration, loudness, and pitch. Subglottal IBIF is also suitable for other ambulatory applications in speech communication, in which further evaluation is underway.

    D. D. Mehta, M. Zañartu, S. W. Feng, H. A. Cheyne II, and R. E. Hillman, “Mobile voice health monitoring using a wearable accelerometer sensor and a smartphone platform,” IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, vol. 59, no. 11, pp. 3090-3096, 2012. Publisher's VersionAbstract

    Many common voice disorders are chronic or recurring conditions that are likely to result from faulty and/or abusive patterns of vocal behavior, referred to generically as vocal hyperfunction. An ongoing goal in clinical voice assessment is the development and use of noninvasively derived measures to quantify and track the daily status of vocal hyperfunction so that the diagnosis and treatment of such behaviorally based voice disorders can be improved. This paper reports on the development of a new, versatile, and cost-effective clinical tool for mobile voice monitoring that acquires the high-bandwidth signal from an accelerometer sensor placed on the neck skin above the collarbone. Using a smartphone as the data acquisition platform, the prototype device provides a user-friendly interface for voice use monitoring, daily sensor calibration, and periodic alert capabilities. Pilot data are reported from three vocally normal speakers and three subjects with voice disorders to demonstrate the potential of the device to yield standard measures of fundamental frequency and sound pressure level and model-based glottal airflow properties. The smartphone-based platform enables future clinical studies for the identification of the best set of measures for differentiating between normal and hyperfunctional patterns of voice use.

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