ABSTRACT: Introduction Due to increased life expectancy among the population, studying the vocal parameters of the elderly is key to promoting vocal health in old age. Objective This study aims to analyze the profile of the extension of speech of elderly female choristers, according to age group. Method The study counted on the participation of 25 elderly female choristers from the Choir of Messianic Church of São Paulo, with ages varying between 63 and 82 years, and an average of 71 years (standard deviation of 5.22). The elders were divided into two groups: G1 aged 63 to 71 years and G2 aged 72 to 82. We asked that each participant count from 20 to 30 in weak, medium, strong, and very strong intensities. Their speech was registered by the software Vocalgrama that allows the evaluation of the profile of speech range. We then submitted the parameters of frequency and intensity to descriptive analysis, both in minimum and maximum levels, and range of spoken voice. Results The average of minimum and maximum frequencies were respectively 134.82-349.96 Hz for G1 and 137.28-348.59 Hz for G2; the average for minimum and maximum intensities were respectively 40.28-95.50 dB for G1 and 40.63-94.35 dB for G2; the vocal range used in speech was 215.14 Hz for G1 and 211.30 Hz for G2. Conclusion The minimum and maximum frequencies, maximum intensity, and vocal range presented differences in favor of the younger elder group.
Project description:Pairs of harmonic complexes with different fundamental frequencies f0 (105 and 189 Hz or 105 and 136 Hz) but identical bandwidth (0.25-3 kHz) were band-pass filtered using a filter having an identical center frequency of 1 kHz. The filter's center frequency was modulated using a triangular wave having a 5-Hz modulation frequency fmod to obtain a pair of vowel-analog waveforms with dynamically varying single-formant transitions. The target signal S contained a single modulation cycle starting either at a phase of -?/2 (up-down) or ?/2 (down-up), whereas the longer distracter N contained several cycles of the modulating triangular wave starting at a random phase. The level at which the target formant's modulating phase could be correctly identified was adaptively determined for several distracter levels and several extents of frequency swing (10-55%) in a group of experienced normal-hearing young and a group of experienced elderly individuals with hearing loss not exceeding one considered moderate. The most important result was that, for the two f0 differences, all distracter levels, and all frequency swing extents tested, elderly listeners needed about 20 dB larger S/N ratios than the young. Results also indicate that identification thresholds of both the elderly and the young listeners are between 4 and 12 dB higher than similarly determined detection thresholds and that, contrary to detection, identification is not a linear function of distracter level. Since formant transitions represent potent cues for speech intelligibility, the large S/N ratios required by the elderly for correct discrimination of single-formant transition dynamics may at least partially explain the well-documented intelligibility loss of speech in babble noise by the elderly.
Project description:Previous work has shown that human listeners are sensitive to level differences in high-frequency energy (HFE) in isolated vowel sounds produced by male singers. Results indicated that sensitivity to HFE level changes increased with overall HFE level, suggesting that listeners would be more "tuned" to HFE in vocal production exhibiting higher levels of HFE. It follows that sensitivity to HFE level changes should be higher (1) for female vocal production than for male vocal production and (2) for singing than for speech. To test this hypothesis, difference limens for HFE level changes in male and female speech and singing were obtained. Listeners showed significantly greater ability to detect level changes in singing vs speech but not in female vs male speech. Mean differences limen scores for speech and singing were about 5 dB in the 8-kHz octave (5.6-11.3 kHz) but 8-10 dB in the 16-kHz octave (11.3-22 kHz). These scores are lower (better) than those previously reported for isolated vowels and some musical instruments.
Project description:A psychophysical matching paradigm has been used to better quantify voice quality under laboratory conditions. The goals of this study were to establish which of two candidate comparison stimuli would best ensure that the range of perceived vocal roughness could be adequately bracketed using a matching task and to provide a general solution to the problem of estimating vocal roughness. Psychometric functions for roughness matching indicated that a speech-like sawtooth-plus-noise complex (20 dB signal-to-noise ratio) amplitude modulated by a sinusoidal function raised to the 4th power yielded a comparison stimulus with a perceptual dynamic range well suited for roughness matching.
Project description:Electroencephalographic alterations have been reported in subjects with learning disorders, but there is no consensus on what characterizes their electroencephalogram findings. Our objective was to determine if there were subgroups within a group of scholars with not otherwise specified learning disorders and if they had specific electroencephalographic patterns. Eighty-five subjects (31 female, 8-11 years) who scored low in at least two subscales -reading, writing and arithmetic- of the Infant Neuropsychological Evaluation were included. Electroencephalograms were recorded in 19 leads during rest with eyes closed; absolute power was obtained every 0.39 Hz. Three subgroups were formed according to children's performance: Group 1 (G1, higher scores than Group 2 in reading speed and reading and writing accuracy), Group 2 (G2, better performance than G1 in composition) and Group 3 (G3, lower scores than Groups 1 and 2 in the three subscales). G3 had higher absolute power in frequencies in the delta and theta range at left frontotemporal sites than G1 and G2. G2 had higher absolute power within alpha frequencies than G3 and G1 at the left occipital site. G3 had higher absolute power in frequencies in the beta range than G1 in parietotemporal areas and than G2 in left frontopolar and temporal sites. G1 had higher absolute power within beta frequencies than G2 in the left frontopolar site. G3 had lower gamma absolute power values than the other groups in the left hemisphere, and gamma activity was higher in G1 than in G2 in frontopolar and temporal areas. This group of children with learning disorders is very heterogeneous. Three subgroups were found with different cognitive profiles, as well as a different electroencephalographic pattern. It is important to consider these differences when planning interventions for children with learning disorders.
Project description:For four decades, the inability of nonhuman primates to produce human speech sounds has been claimed to stem from limitations in their vocal tract anatomy, a conclusion based on plaster casts made from the vocal tract of a monkey cadaver. We used x-ray videos to quantify vocal tract dynamics in living macaques during vocalization, facial displays, and feeding. We demonstrate that the macaque vocal tract could easily produce an adequate range of speech sounds to support spoken language, showing that previous techniques based on postmortem samples drastically underestimated primate vocal capabilities. Our findings imply that the evolution of human speech capabilities required neural changes rather than modifications of vocal anatomy. Macaques have a speech-ready vocal tract but lack a speech-ready brain to control it.
Project description:Background noise reduces the depth of the low-frequency envelope modulations known to be important for speech intelligibility. The relative strength of the target and masker envelope modulations can be quantified using a modulation signal-to-noise ratio, (S/N)(mod), measure. Such a measure can be used in noise-suppression algorithms to extract target-relevant modulations from the corrupted (target + masker) envelopes for potential improvement in speech intelligibility. In the present study, envelopes are decomposed in the modulation spectral domain into a number of channels spanning the range of 0-30 Hz. Target-dominant modulations are identified and retained in each channel based on the (S/N)(mod) selection criterion, while modulations which potentially interfere with perception of the target (i.e., those dominated by the masker) are discarded. The impact of modulation-selective processing on the speech-reception threshold for sentences in noise is assessed with normal-hearing listeners. Results indicate that the intelligibility of noise-masked speech can be improved by as much as 13 dB when preserving target-dominant modulations, present up to a modulation frequency of 18 Hz, while discarding masker-dominant modulations from the mixture envelopes.
Project description:Infant-directed (ID) speech provides exaggerated auditory and visual prosodic cues. Here we investigated if infants were sensitive to the match between the auditory and visual correlates of ID speech prosody. We presented 8-month-old infants with two silent line-joined point-light displays of faces speaking different ID sentences, and a single vocal-only sentence matched to one of the displays. Infants looked longer to the matched than mismatched visual signal when full-spectrum speech was presented; and when the vocal signals contained speech low-pass filtered at 400 Hz. When the visual display was separated into rigid (head only) and non-rigid (face only) motion, the infants looked longer to the visual match in the rigid condition; and to the visual mismatch in the non-rigid condition. Overall, the results suggest 8-month-olds can extract information about the prosodic structure of speech from voice and head kinematics, and are sensitive to their match; and that they are less sensitive to the match between lip and voice information in connected speech.
Project description:OBJECTIVES:Pediatric vestibular evaluations incorporate cervical and ocular vestibular evoked myogenic potential (c- and oVEMP, respectively) testing; however, in children, c- and oVEMP thresholds have been minimally investigated and frequency tuning is unknown. Children are also at risk for unsafe sound exposure secondary to VEMP. While it is unknown if VEMP threshold testing leads to cochlear changes, it is possible that this risk increases due to the increased number of trials needed to obtain a threshold. Obtaining VEMP thresholds at various frequencies in children provides further information for pediatric normative VEMP data. Assessing for cochlear changes after VEMP threshold testing would provide information on the safety of threshold VEMP testing in children. The objectives of this study were to (1) characterize c- and oVEMP thresholds in children, adolescents, and young adults with normal hearing using 500 and 750 Hz tone burst (TB) stimuli, (2) compare frequency tuning of 500 and 750 Hz TB, and (3) assess whether cochlear changes exist after VEMP threshold testing. It is hypothesized that children, adolescents, and young adults would not show age-related changes to the vestibular system. Therefore, reliable VEMP thresholds would be seen below maximum acoustical stimulation levels (e.g., <125 dB SPL) and frequency tuning will be similar for 500 and 750 Hz TB stimuli. DESIGN:Ten children (age 4-9), 10 adolescents (age 10-19), and 10 young adults (age 20-29) with normal hearing and tympanometry participated. All subjects received c- and oVEMP testing at maximum stimulation and threshold. To address frequency tuning, but not exceed recommended sound exposure allowance, subjects received a 500 Hz TB stimulus in one ear and a 750 Hz TB stimulus in the other ear. Subjects completed tympanometry pre-VEMP, and audiometric threshold testing, distortion product otoacoustic emission testing, and subjective questionnaire pre- and post-VEMP to study the effect of VEMP exposure on cochlear function for each stimulus frequency. RESULTS:(1) cVEMP thresholds were determined for both stimulus frequencies for children (500 Hz = 106 dB SPL; 750 Hz = 106 dB SPL), adolescents (500 Hz = 107.5 dB SPL; 750 Hz = 109.5 dB SPL), and young adults (500 Hz = 111.5 dB SPL; 750 Hz = 112 dB SPL). oVEMP thresholds were also obtained in response to both stimulus frequencies for children (500 Hz = 111.1 dB SPL; 750 Hz = 112.2 dB SPL), adolescents (500 Hz = 112.5 dB SPL; 750 Hz = 114.5 dB SPL), and young adults (500 Hz = 116 dB SPL; 750 Hz = 117 dB SPL). Similar thresholds were found between groups except for children who had significantly lower thresholds compared with adults for cVEMP (500 Hz: p = 0.002; 750 Hz: p = 0.004) and oVEMP (500 Hz: p = 0.01; 750 Hz: p = 0.02). In addition, equivalent ear-canal volume and VEMP thresholds were linearly correlated. (2) There was no significant effect of stimulus frequency on VEMP response rates, latencies, peak to peak amplitudes, or thresholds, suggesting similar frequency tuning for 500 and 750 Hz. (3) There were no significant effects of VEMP threshold testing on cochlear function for either stimulus frequency. CONCLUSIONS:Children, adolescents, and young adults show VEMP thresholds below high stimulation levels and had similar frequency tuning between 500 and 750 Hz. Use of 750 Hz could be regarded as the safer stimuli due to its shorter duration and thus reduced sound exposure. Children with smaller ear-canal volume had present responses at maximum stimulation and lower thresholds, suggesting that VEMP testing could be initiated at lower acoustic levels to minimize sound exposure and optimize testing.
Project description:Monkey vocal tracts are capable of producing monkey speech, not the full range of articulate human speech. The evolution of human speech entailed both anatomy and brains. Fitch, de Boer, Mathur, and Ghazanfar in Science Advances claim that "monkey vocal tracts are speech-ready," and conclude that "…the evolution of human speech capabilities required neural change rather than modifications of vocal anatomy." Neither premise is consistent either with the data presented and the conclusions reached by de Boer and Fitch themselves in their own published papers on the role of anatomy in the evolution of human speech or with the body of independent studies published since the 1950s.
Project description:To test the hypothesis that subligamental cordectomy produces superior acoustic outcome than subepithelial cordectomy for early (T1-2) glottic cancer that requires complete removal of the superficial lamina propria but does not involve the vocal ligament.Computer simulation.A computational tool for vocal fold surgical planning and simulation (the National Center for Voice and Speech Phonosurgery Optimizer-Simulator) was used to evaluate the acoustic output of alternative vocal fold morphologies. Four morphologies were simulated: normal, subepithelial cordectomy, subligamental cordectomy, and transligamental cordectomy (partial ligament resection). The primary outcome measure was the range of fundamental frequency (F0 ) and sound pressure level (SPL). A more restricted F0 -SPL range was considered less favorable because of reduced acoustic possibilities given the same range of driving subglottic pressure and identical vocal fold posturing.Subligamental cordectomy generated solutions covering an F0 -SPL range 82% of normal for a rectangular vocal fold. In contrast, transligamental and subepithelial cordectomies produced significantly smaller F0 -SPL ranges, 57% and 19% of normal, respectively.This study illustrates the use of the Phonosurgery Optimizer-Simulator to test a specific hypothesis regarding the merits of two surgical alternatives. These simulation results provide theoretical support for vocal ligament excision with maximum muscle preservation when superficial lamina propria resection is necessary but the vocal ligament can be spared on oncological grounds. The resection of more tissue may paradoxically allow the eventual recovery of a better speaking voice, assuming glottal width is restored. Application of this conclusion to surgical practice will require confirmatory clinical data.N/A.