Prosodic Control in Severe Dysarthria Preserved Ability to Mark the Question-Statement Contrast Research Article
Research Article  |   October 01, 2002
Prosodic Control in Severe Dysarthria
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Rupal Patel, PhD
    Department of Biobehavioral Sciences Teachers College Columbia University New York, NY
  • Contact author: Rupal Patel, PhD, Department of Biobehavioral Sciences, Teachers College Columbia University, 525 West 120th Street, Box 180, New York, NY 10027. E-mail: rp564@columbia.edu
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Dysarthria / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Speech / Research Articles
Research Article   |   October 01, 2002
Prosodic Control in Severe Dysarthria
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2002, Vol. 45, 858-870. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2002/069)
History: Received September 21, 2001 , Accepted May 7, 2002
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2002, Vol. 45, 858-870. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2002/069)
History: Received September 21, 2001; Accepted May 7, 2002
Web of Science® Times Cited: 24

Speakers with severe dysarthria are known to have reduced range in prosody. Consistent control within that range, however, has largely been ignored. In earlier investigations speakers with severe dysarthria were able to control pitch and duration for sustained vowel production despite reduced flexibility of control (Patel, 1998). The present experiment examined whether 8 speakers with severe dysarthria due to cerebral palsy used prosodic parameters of pitch contour and syllable duration for phrase-level productions. Speakers with dysarthria (N=8) produced 3-syllable phrases as questions and statements. Naïve listeners (N=48) classifed dysarthric productions as either questions or statements. Listeners were able to distinguish questions from statements with accuracy levels ranging from 81% to 98 %. We were also interested in studying how dysarthric speakers marked the question-statement contrast. Prosodic features of pitch contour and syllable duration were systematically removed from the original recorded vocalizations to examine the salience of these features on listener classification. Removal of pitch contour cues dramatically reduced listener accuracy scores to almost chance performance. Listeners found pitch contour cues to be informationbearing cues in dysarthric vocalizations even though the range of frequency control in these speakers may be reduced. That speakers with dysarthria were able to exert sufficient control to signal the question-statement contrast has implications for diagnostic and intervention practices aimed to optimally exploit prosodic control for enhancing communication efficiency.

Acknowledgments
This research was conducted in the Department of Speech-Language Pathology at the University of Toronto toward partial fulfillment of the requirements for my doctoral dissertation, Identifying Information-Bearing Prosodic Parameters in Severely Dysarthric Vocalizations, 2000. I am grateful to Bernard O'Keefe for his mentorship, support, and guidance. I would also like to thank Hans Kunov, Christopher Dromey, Luc De Nil, and Deb Roy for their contributions to this work. I am grateful to John H. Saxman and Stephanie Shattuck-Hufnagel for reading the manuscript and offering invaluable suggestions. Last, this study would not have been possible without the involvement of the participants and support from the National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Bloorview Childrens Hospital Foundation, Whipper Watson Foundation, Donalda MacGeachy Foundation, and the Harmonize of Speech Foundation of Ontario.
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