Auditory–Perceptual Assessment of Fluency in Typical and Neurologically Disordered Speech Purpose The aim of this study is to investigate how speech fluency in typical and atypical speech is perceptually assessed by speech-language pathologists (SLPs). Our research questions were as follows: (a) How do SLPs rate fluency in speakers with and without neurological communication disorders? (b) Do they differentiate the speaker ... Research Article
Research Article  |   May 17, 2018
Auditory–Perceptual Assessment of Fluency in Typical and Neurologically Disordered Speech
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Nelly Penttilä
    Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Tampere, Finland
  • Anna-Maija Korpijaakko-Huuhka
    Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Tampere, Finland
  • Ray D. Kent
    Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • 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 Nelly Penttilä: nelly.penttila@uta.fi
  • Editor-in-Chief: Julie Liss
    Editor-in-Chief: Julie Liss×
  • Editor: Bharath Chandrasekaran
    Editor: Bharath Chandrasekaran×
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Traumatic Brain Injury / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Speech / Research Articles
Research Article   |   May 17, 2018
Auditory–Perceptual Assessment of Fluency in Typical and Neurologically Disordered Speech
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, May 2018, Vol. 61, 1086-1103. doi:10.1044/2018_JSLHR-S-17-0326
History: Received September 1, 2017 , Revised November 14, 2017 , Accepted January 17, 2018
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, May 2018, Vol. 61, 1086-1103. doi:10.1044/2018_JSLHR-S-17-0326
History: Received September 1, 2017; Revised November 14, 2017; Accepted January 17, 2018

Purpose The aim of this study is to investigate how speech fluency in typical and atypical speech is perceptually assessed by speech-language pathologists (SLPs). Our research questions were as follows: (a) How do SLPs rate fluency in speakers with and without neurological communication disorders? (b) Do they differentiate the speaker groups? and (c) What features do they hear impairing speech fluency?

Method Ten SLPs specialized in neurological communication disorders volunteered as expert judges to rate 90 narrative speech samples on a Visual Analogue Scale (see Kempster, Gerratt, Verdolini Abbott, Barkmeier-Kraemer, & Hillman, 2009; p. 127). The samples—randomly mixed—were from 70 neurologically healthy speakers (the control group) and 20 speakers with traumatic brain injury, 10 of whom had neurogenic stuttering (designated as Clinical Groups A and B).

Results The fluency rates were higher for typical speakers than for speakers with traumatic brain injury; however, the agreement among the judges was higher for atypical fluency. Auditory–perceptual assessment of fluency was significantly impaired by the features of stuttering and something else but not by speech rate. Stuttering was also perceived in speakers not diagnosed as stutterers. A borderline between typical and atypical fluency was found.

Conclusions Speech fluency is a multifaceted phenomenon, and on the basis of this study, we suggest a more general approach to fluency and its deviations that will take into account, in addition to the motor and linguistic aspects of fluency, the metalinguistic component of expression as well. The results of this study indicate a need for further studies on the precise nature of borderline fluency and its different disfluencies.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by a grant from the Emil Aaltonen Foundation (25.4.2016 / 20 025e), awarded to Nelly Tenttilä. The authors thank all the participants who volunteered their time for recording the speech samples and for acting as evaluators in the study. The authors would also like to gratefully acknowledge the statistician Juho Luoma for his advice on the statistical designs of this study.
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