Developmental Sexual Dimorphism of the Oral and Pharyngeal Portions of the Vocal Tract: An Imaging Study PurposeThe anatomic origin for prepubertal vowel acoustic differences between male and female subjects remains unknown. The purpose of this study is to examine developmental sex differences in vocal tract (VT) length and its oral and pharyngeal portions.MethodNine VT variables were measured from 605 imaging studies (magnetic resonance imaging and computed ... Article
Article  |   August 01, 2011
Developmental Sexual Dimorphism of the Oral and Pharyngeal Portions of the Vocal Tract: An Imaging Study
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Houri K. Vorperian
    Waisman Center, Madison, WI
    Waisman Center, Madison, WI
  • Shubing Wang
    University of Wisconsin–Madison
    University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • E. Michael Schimek
    Waisman Center, Madison, WI
    Waisman Center, Madison, WI
  • Reid B. Durtschi
    Waisman Center, Madison, WI
    Waisman Center, Madison, WI
  • Ray D. Kent
    Waisman Center, Madison, WI
    Waisman Center, Madison, WI
  • Lindell R. Gentry
    University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics, Madison
    University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics, Madison
  • Moo K. Chung
    University of Wisconsin–Madison
    University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • Correspondence to Houri K. Vorperian: vorperian@waisman.wisc.edu
  • Editor: Anne Smith
    Editor: Anne Smith×
  • Associate Editor: Karen Forrest
    Associate Editor: Karen Forrest×
Article Information
Hearing & Speech Perception / Acoustics / Special Populations / Research Issues, Methods & Evidence-Based Practice / Telepractice & Computer-Based Approaches / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Speech
Article   |   August 01, 2011
Developmental Sexual Dimorphism of the Oral and Pharyngeal Portions of the Vocal Tract: An Imaging Study
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2011, Vol. 54, 995-1010. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2010/10-0097)
History: Received April 13, 2010 , Accepted November 2, 2010
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2011, Vol. 54, 995-1010. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2010/10-0097)
History: Received April 13, 2010; Accepted November 2, 2010
Web of Science® Times Cited: 19

PurposeThe anatomic origin for prepubertal vowel acoustic differences between male and female subjects remains unknown. The purpose of this study is to examine developmental sex differences in vocal tract (VT) length and its oral and pharyngeal portions.

MethodNine VT variables were measured from 605 imaging studies (magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography) of subjects between birth and age 19 years. Given sex differences in growth rate (Vorperian et al., 2009), assessment of sex differences was done through use of a localized comparison window of 60 months. Analysis entailed applying this comparison window first to 4 discrete age cohorts, followed by a progressive assessment in which this comparison window was moved in 1-month increments from birth across all ages.

ResultsFindings document significant postpubertal sex differences in both the oral and pharyngeal portions of the VT. They also document periods of significant prepubertal sex differences in the oral region first, followed by segments in the pharyngeal region.

ConclusionsAssessment of developmental sex differences using localized age ranges is effective in unveiling sex differences that growth rate differences may conceal. Findings on the presence of prepubertal sex differences in the oral region of the VT may clarify, in part, the anatomic basis of documented prepubertal acoustic differences.

Acknowledgments
This work was supported, in part, by National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grants R03 DC4362 (Anatomic Development of the Vocal Tract: MRI Procedures) and R01 DC6282 (MRI and CT Studies of the Developing Vocal Tract) as well as by National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Core Grant P-30 HD03352, awarded to the Waisman Center. Portions of this article were presented in 2007 at the 154th meeting of the Acoustical Society of America in New Orleans, LA. We thank Celia S. Choih for assistance with placing the anatomic landmarks and making the necessary measurements and Katelyn J. Kassulke for assistance with figure preparation.
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