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The effect of reduced vowel working space on speech intelligibility in Mandarin-speaking young adults with cerebral palsy.

The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America

Adolescent, Adult, Cerebral Palsy, physiopathology, rehabilitation, Dysarthria, Humans, Language, Male, Phonetics, Reference Values, Speech Intelligibility, Speech Perception, physiology

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      Abstract

      The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of reduced vowel working space on dysarthric talkers' speech intelligibility using both acoustic and perceptual approaches. In experiment 1, the acoustic-perceptual relationship between vowel working space area and speech intelligibility was examined in Mandarin-speaking young adults with cerebral palsy. Subjects read aloud 18 bisyllabic words containing the vowels /i/, /a/, and /u/ using their normal speaking rate. Each talker's words were identified by three normal listeners. The percentage of correct vowel and word identification were calculated as vowel intelligibility and word intelligibility, respectively. Results revealed that talkers with cerebral palsy exhibited smaller vowel working space areas compared to ten age-matched controls. The vowel working space area was significantly correlated with vowel intelligibility (r=0.632, p<0.005) and with word intelligibility (r=0.684, p<0.005). Experiment 2 examined whether tokens of expanded vowel working spaces were perceived as better vowel exemplars and represented with greater perceptual spaces than tokens of reduced vowel working spaces. The results of the perceptual experiment support this prediction. The distorted vowels of talkers with cerebral palsy compose a smaller acoustic space that results in shrunken intervowel perceptual distances for listeners.

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          The purpose of this study was to replicate and extend the classic study of vowel acoustics by Peterson and Barney (PB) [J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 24, 175-184 (1952)]. Recordings were made of 45 men, 48 women, and 46 children producing the vowels /i,I,e, epsilon,ae,a, [symbol: see text],O,U,u, lambda,3 iota/ in h-V-d syllables. Formant contours for F1-F4 were measured from LPC spectra using a custom interactive editing tool. For comparison with the PB data, formant patterns were sampled at a time that was judged by visual inspection to be maximally steady. Analysis of the formant data shows numerous differences between the present data and those of PB, both in terms of average frequencies of F1 and F2, and the degree of overlap among adjacent vowels. As with the original study, listening tests showed that the signals were nearly always identified as the vowel intended by the talker. Discriminant analysis showed that the vowels were more poorly separated than the PB data based on a static sample of the formant pattern. However, the vowels can be separated with a high degree of accuracy if duration and spectral change information is included.
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            16018490

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