Automated Speech Rate Measurement in Dysarthria Purpose In this study, a new algorithm for automated determination of speech rate (SR) in dysarthric speech is evaluated. We investigated how reliably the algorithm calculates the SR of dysarthric speech samples when compared with calculation performed by speech-language pathologists. Method The new algorithm was trained and tested ... Research Article
Research Article  |   June 01, 2015
Automated Speech Rate Measurement in Dysarthria
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Heidi Martens
    Antwerp University, Belgium
  • Tomas Dekens
    Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium
  • Gwen Van Nuffelen
    Antwerp University, Belgium
    Antwerp University Hospital, Belgium
  • Lukas Latacz
    Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium
    iMinds, Ghent, Belgium
  • Werner Verhelst
    Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium
    iMinds, Ghent, Belgium
  • Marc De Bodt
    Antwerp University, Belgium
    Antwerp University Hospital, Belgium
    Ghent University, Belgium
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.×
  • Correspondence to Heidi Martens: heidi.martens@student.uantwerpen.be
  • Editor: Jody Kreiman
    Editor: Jody Kreiman×
  • Associate Editor: Scott Thomson
    Associate Editor: Scott Thomson×
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Dysarthria / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Speech / Research Articles
Research Article   |   June 01, 2015
Automated Speech Rate Measurement in Dysarthria
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2015, Vol. 58, 698-712. doi:10.1044/2015_JSLHR-S-14-0242
History: Received August 29, 2014 , Revised February 13, 2015 , Accepted March 30, 2015
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2015, Vol. 58, 698-712. doi:10.1044/2015_JSLHR-S-14-0242
History: Received August 29, 2014; Revised February 13, 2015; Accepted March 30, 2015

Purpose In this study, a new algorithm for automated determination of speech rate (SR) in dysarthric speech is evaluated. We investigated how reliably the algorithm calculates the SR of dysarthric speech samples when compared with calculation performed by speech-language pathologists.

Method The new algorithm was trained and tested using Dutch speech samples of 36 speakers with no history of speech impairment and 40 speakers with mild to moderate dysarthria. We tested the algorithm under various conditions: according to speech task type (sentence reading, passage reading, and storytelling) and algorithm optimization method (speaker group optimization and individual speaker optimization). Correlations between automated and human SR determination were calculated for each condition.

Results High correlations between automated and human SR determination were found in the various testing conditions.

Conclusions The new algorithm measures SR in a sufficiently reliable manner. It is currently being integrated in a clinical software tool for assessing and managing prosody in dysarthric speech. Further research is needed to fine-tune the algorithm to severely dysarthric speech, to make the algorithm less sensitive to background noise, and to evaluate how the algorithm deals with syllabic consonants.

Acknowledgments
This research is part of a project called “Computerized Assessment and Treatment of Rate, Intonation, and Stress,” which ran from September 2009 until August 2013, and was supported by Flemish Agency for Innovation by Science and Technology Grant TBM-080662 awarded to Heidi Martens, Tomas Dekens, Gwen Van Nuffelen, Lukas Latacz, Werner Verhelst, and Marc De Bodt. We thank all the speech-language pathologists and recorded speakers who made this research possible. We are much indebted to Tine Patteeuw and Stephanie Daemen for their careful annotations of the numerous speech data. Finally, we thank Maria Hernández-Díaz Huici for the inspiring discussions on objective measurement of speech characteristics.
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