Examination of clear speech in Parkinson disease using passage-level vowel space metrics


J. A. Whitfield and D. D. Mehta, “Examination of clear speech in Parkinson disease using passage-level vowel space metrics,” Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, vol. 62, no. 7, pp. 2082–2098, 2019.
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Purpose: The purpose of the current study was to characterize
clear speech production for speakers with and without
Parkinson disease (PD) using several measures of working
vowel space computed from frequently sampled formant
Method: The 1st 2 formant frequencies were tracked for
a reading passage that was produced using habitual and
clear speaking styles by 15 speakers with PD and 15 healthy
control speakers. Vowel space metrics were calculated
from the distribution of frequently sampled formant frequency
tracks, including vowel space hull area, articulatory–acoustic
vowel space, and multiple vowel space density (VSD)
measures based on different percentile contours of the
formant density distribution.
Results: Both speaker groups exhibited significant
increases in the articulatory–acoustic vowel space and
VSD10, the area of the outermost (10th percentile)
contour of the formant density distribution, from habitual
to clear styles. These clarity-related vowel space increases
were significantly smaller for speakers with PD than
controls. Both groups also exhibited a significant increase
in vowel space hull area; however, this metric was not
sensitive to differences in the clear speech response
between groups. Relative to healthy controls, speakers
with PD exhibited a significantly smaller VSD90, the area
of the most central (90th percentile), densely populated
region of the formant space.
Conclusions: Using vowel space metrics calculated from
formant traces of the reading passage, the current work
suggests that speakers with PD do indeed reach the more
peripheral regions of the vowel space during connected
speech but spend a larger percentage of the time in more
central regions of formant space than healthy speakers.
Additionally, working vowel space metrics based on the
distribution of formant data suggested that speakers with
PD exhibited less of a clarity-related increase in formant
space than controls, a trend that was not observed for
perimeter-based measures of vowel space area.

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Last updated on 07/16/2019