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Long-term Average Spectrum and Nasal Accelerometry in Sentences of Differing Nasality and Forward-Focused Vowel Productions Under Altered Auditory Feedback

  • Shao-Hsuan Lee
    Affiliations
    Department of Audiology and Speech Language Pathology, Mackay Medical College, New Taipei City, and Department of Speech Language Pathology and Audiology, National Taipei University of Nursing and Health Sciences, Taipei, Taiwan
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  • Guo-She Lee
    Correspondence
    Address correspondence and reprint requests to Guo-She Lee No.155, Sec. 2, Li-Nong St., Bei-Tou Dist., Taipei City 112, Taiwan
    Affiliations
    School of Medicine, College of Medicine, Yangming Campus, National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University, and Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Taipei City Hospital Renai Branch, Taipei, Taiwan
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      Summary

      Objectives and Background

      To investigate whether voice focus adjustments can alter the audio-vocal feedback and consequently modulate speech/voice motor control. Speaking with a forward-focused voice was expected to enhance audio-vocal feedback and thus decrease the variability of vocal fundamental frequency (F0).

      Materials and Method

      Twenty-two healthy, untrained adults (10 males and 12 females) were requested to sustain vowel /a/ with their natural focus and a forward focus and to naturally read the nasal, oral, and mixed oral-nasal sentences in normal noise-masked auditory conditions. Meanwhile, a miniature accelerometer was externally attached on the noise to detect the nasal vibrations during vocalization. Audio recordings were made and analyzed using the long-term average spectrum (LTAS) and power spectral analysis of F0.

      Results

      Compared with naturally-focused vowel production and oral sentences, forward-focused vowel productions and nasal sentences both showed significant increases in nasal accelerometric amplitude and the spectral power within the range of 200∼300 Hz, and significantly decreased the F0 variability below 3 Hz, which has been reported to be associated with enhanced auditory feedback in our previous research. The auditory masking not only significantly increased the low-frequency F0 variability, but also significantly decreased the ratio of the spectral power within 200∼300 Hz to the power within 300∼1000 Hz for the vowel and sentence productions. Gender differences were found in the correlations between the degree of nasal coupling and F0 stability as well as in the LTAS characteristics in response to noise.

      Conclusions

      Variations in nasal-oral acoustic coupling not only change the formant features of speech signals, but involuntarily influence the auditory feedback control of vocal fold vibrations. Speakers tend to show improved F0 stability in response to a forward-focused voice adjustment.

      Key Words

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