Vibratory Regime Classification of Infant Phonation


      Infant phonation is highly variable in many respects, including the basic vibratory patterns by which the vocal tissues create acoustic signals. Previous studies have identified the regular occurrence of nonmodal phonation types in normal infant phonation. The glottis is like many oscillating systems that, because of nonlinear relationships among the elements, may vibrate in ways representing the deterministic patterns classified theoretically within the mathematical framework of nonlinear dynamics. The infant's preverbal vocal explorations present such a variety of phonations that it may be possible to find effectively all the classes of vibration predicted by nonlinear dynamic theory. The current report defines acoustic criteria for an important subset of such vibratory regimes, and demonstrates that analysts can be trained to reliably use these criteria for a classification that includes all instances of infant phonation in the recorded corpora. The method is thus internally comprehensive in the sense that all phonations are classified, but it is not exhaustive in the sense that all vocal qualities are thereby represented. Using the methods thus developed, this study also demonstrates that the distributions of these phonation types vary significantly across sessions of recording in the first year of life, suggesting developmental changes. The method of regime classification is thus capable of tracking changes that may be indicative of maturation of the mechanism, the learning of categories of phonatory control, and the possibly varying use of vocalizations across social contexts.

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