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Objective Indices of Perceived Vocal Strain

      Abstract

      Background

      A limited number of experiments have investigated the perception of strain compared to the voice qualities of breathiness and roughness despite its widespread occurrence in patients who have hyperfunctional voice disorders, adductor spasmodic dysphonia, and vocal fold paralysis among others.

      Objective

      The purpose of this study is to determine the perceptual basis of strain through identification and exploration of acoustic and psychoacoustic measures.

      Methods

      Twelve listeners evaluated the degree of strain for 28 dysphonic phonation samples on a five-point rating scale task. Computational estimates based on cepstrum, sharpness, and spectral moments (linear and transformed with auditory processing front-end) were correlated to the perceptual ratings.

      Results

      Perceived strain was strongly correlated with cepstral peak prominence, sharpness, and a subset of the spectral metrics. Spectral energy distribution measures from the output of an auditory processing front-end (ie, excitation pattern and specific loudness pattern) accounted for 77–79% of the model variance for strained voices in combination with the cepstral measure.

      Conclusions

      Modeling the perception of strain using an auditory front-end prior to acoustic analysis provides better characterization of the perceptual ratings of strain, similar to our prior work on breathiness and roughness. Results also provide evidence that the sharpness model of Fastl and Zwicker (2007) is one of the strong predictors of strain perception.

      Key Words

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