Effect of Speaking Rate Manipulations on Acoustic and Perceptual Aspects of the Dysarthria in Amyotrophic Lateral SclerosisWeismer G. · Laures J.S. · Jeng J.-Y. · Kent R.D. · Kent J.F.
Department of Communicative Disorders, Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisc., USA
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The current study explored the acoustic and perceptual effects of speaking rate adjustments in persons with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and in neurologically normal individuals. Sentence utterances were obtained from the participants at two self-selected speaking rates: habitual and fast. Total utterance durations, segment durations, and vowel formant frequencies comprised the acoustic measures, whereas magnitude estimates of speech intelligibility and severity of speech involvement were the perceptual measures. Results showed that participants in both the neurologically normal and ALS groups were able to increase their speaking rate when asked to do so, but that the participants with ALS were significantly slower than the neurologically normal participants at both rates. Both groups of participants also showed compression of the acoustic vowel space with increased speaking rate, with the vowel spaces of participants with ALS generally being more compressed than the vowel spaces of neurologically normal participants, at either rate. Most importantly, the perceptual measures failed to show any effect of the speaking rate adjustment on scaled intelligibility or severity, for either group. These findings are discussed relative to the general issue of slow habitual speaking rates among many speakers with dysarthria, and possible explanations for the slowness. The lack of an effect of increased rate on the perception of the speech deficit among speakers with ALS argues against the idea that the habitually slow rates are a form of compensation to reduce the complexity of speech production.
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