A Cross-System Instrumental Voice Profile of the Aging Voice: With Considerations of Jaw Posture Effects
Thesis DisciplineSpeech and Language Therapy
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
Purpose: An open mouth approach is used in voice therapy for enhancing speech and voice production and relaxing the laryngeal musculature. The acoustic and physiological consequences of an open jaw posture, however, have not been clearly understood due to a paucity of cross-system studies taking the age effect into consideration. The major aims of this study are twofold (1) to examine if the geriatric voice may be improved using an “open jaw” posture and (2) if an aging effect on the voice of normal healthy adults can be detected through acoustic and physiological measures Method: The main part of this study involved simultaneous multi-channel voice recordings obtained from 85 healthy adults aged between 38 and 93 years. A convenience sampling strategy was used to recruit at least five females and five males in each of four age groups, 35-59 years (35+), 60-69 (60+), 70-79 (70+), and above 80 (80+). For simultaneous acoustic, electroglottographic (EGG), and jaw displacement recordings, participants were asked to perform two tasks which included a sustained vowel task and a sentence production task. The sustained vowel task involved sustaining the vowel /a/ in five different conditions, an isolated vowel /a/ produced at normal, low, and high pitch levels and the vowel /a/ initiated with a consonant (/m/ and /h/). The sentence production task involved production of the sentence 'We saw two cars,' containing the vowels /i, ɔ, u, a/. For simultaneous airflow-EGG recordings, participants were asked to sustain the vowel /a/ at normal pitch. For simultaneous airflow-air pressure-EGG recordings, participants were asked to repeat /pa/ five times in one breath. Participants were asked to perform all of the tasks using two jaw postures (normal and open). A series of univariate analysis of variances were used to identify instrumental measures sensitive for discriminating between the four age groups and the two jaw postures. A follow-up perceptual study was conducted to determine the effect of an open jaw posture on vowel intelligibility and voice clarity. A quota sampling strategy was used to recruit 40 normal hearing participants, including 20 females (age range = 18-42 years, mean = 25.3, SD = 7.9) and 20 males (age range = 18-47, mean = 23.6, SD = 6.7). These listeners were presented with vowels segmented from the sentences recorded in the first experiment and asked to perform a vowel identification and a voice clarity discrimination task. The vowel samples were taken from 40 speakers, with five females and five males in each of the four age groups (35+, 60+, 70+, and 80+). The percentages of correct vowel identification for voices produced with normal and open jaw postures were compared. The percentages of vowels judged as 'clearer' in a normal-open jaw contrast pairs were also calculated for comparison. Results: Significant age group effects were found in this study for both genders on fundamental frequency (F0), voice onset time (VOT) (/ka/), open quotient (OQ), and speed quotient (SQ), with additional age differences detected for females on %jitter, %shimmer, signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), and the second formant frequency (F2), and for males a significant age group effect was found on VOT (/tu/). Results for both females and males revealed significant open jaw posture effects on F0, F2, VOT (/ka/), MFR, SPL and vowel space area. In addition, for females significant posture effects were found on F1, subglottal pressure and the H1-H2 amplitude difference, and for males, significant posture effects were found on %jitter and VOT-/tu/. Results from the follow-up perceptual study revealed that an open jaw posture was associated with better vowel identification and better voice clarity. Conclusions: A selection of instrumental measures was shown to be useful for detecting voice changes due to aging. Instrumental and perceptual evidence was found that an open jaw posture was associated with positive changes in vocal behaviours, including improved phonatory stability, vocal power, and voice clarity.