Eliciting and Characterizing Porcine Vocalizations: When Pigs Fly



      While voice-related therapeutic interventions are often researched preclinically in the porcine model, there are no well-established methods to induce porcine glottic phonation. Described approaches, such as training animals to phonate for positive reinforcement are time-consuming and plagued by inherent variability in the type of phonation produced and contamination of background noise. Thus, a reliable method of assessing glottic phonation in the porcine model is needed.


      In this study, we have created a novel pulley-based apparatus with harness for “pig-lifting” with surrounding acoustic insulation and high-directional microphone with digital recorder for recording phonation. Praat and Matlab were used to analyze all porcine vocalizations for fundamental frequency (F0), intensity, duration of phonation and cepstral peak prominence (CPP). Glottic phonation was detected using F0 (≥2000 hz), duration (≥3 seconds) and researcher perceptual judgment. Partial-glottic phonations were also analyzed. Reliability between researcher judgment and acoustic measures for glottic phonation detection was high.


      Acoustic analysis demonstrated that glottic and partial-glottic phonation was consistently elicited, with no formal training of the minipigs required. Glottic vocalizations increased with multiple lifts. Glottic phonation continued to be elicited after multiple days but became less frequent. Glottic and partial-glottic phonations had similar CPP values over the 6 experimental days.


      Our cost-effective, reliable method of inducing and recording glottic phonation in the porcine model may provide a cost effective, preclinical tool in voice research.

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