A Phonetic Complexity-Based Approach for Intelligibility and Articulatory Precision Testing: A Preliminary Study on Talkers With Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Purpose This study describes a phonetic complexity-based approach for speech intelligibility and articulatory precision testing using preliminary data from talkers with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Method Eight talkers with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and 8 healthy controls produced a list of 16 low and high complexity words. Sixty-four listeners judged ... Research Note
Research Note  |   September 19, 2018
A Phonetic Complexity-Based Approach for Intelligibility and Articulatory Precision Testing: A Preliminary Study on Talkers With Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Mili Kuruvilla-Dugdale
    Department of Communication Science and Disorders, University of Missouri, Columbia
  • Claire Custer
    Department of Communication Science and Disorders, University of Missouri, Columbia
  • Lindsey Heidrick
    Department of Hearing and Speech, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City
  • Richard Barohn
    Department of Neurology, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City
  • Raghav Govindarajan
    Department of Neurology, University of Missouri, Columbia
  • 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 Mili Kuruvilla-Dugdale: kuruvillam@missouri.edu
  • Editor-in-Chief: Julie Liss
    Editor-in-Chief: Julie Liss×
  • Editor: Megan McAuliffe
    Editor: Megan McAuliffe×
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Special Populations / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Speech / Research Notes
Research Note   |   September 19, 2018
A Phonetic Complexity-Based Approach for Intelligibility and Articulatory Precision Testing: A Preliminary Study on Talkers With Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, September 2018, Vol. 61, 2205-2214. doi:10.1044/2018_JSLHR-S-17-0462
History: Received December 16, 2017 , Revised April 17, 2018 , Accepted May 24, 2018
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, September 2018, Vol. 61, 2205-2214. doi:10.1044/2018_JSLHR-S-17-0462
History: Received December 16, 2017; Revised April 17, 2018; Accepted May 24, 2018

Purpose This study describes a phonetic complexity-based approach for speech intelligibility and articulatory precision testing using preliminary data from talkers with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Method Eight talkers with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and 8 healthy controls produced a list of 16 low and high complexity words. Sixty-four listeners judged the samples for intelligibility, and 2 trained listeners completed phoneme-level analysis to determine articulatory precision. To estimate percent intelligibility, listeners orthographically transcribed each word, and the transcriptions were scored as being either accurate or inaccurate. Percent articulatory precision was calculated based on the experienced listeners' judgments of phoneme distortions, deletions, additions, and/or substitutions for each word. Articulation errors were weighted based on the perceived impact on intelligibility to determine word-level precision.

Results Between-groups differences in word intelligibility and articulatory precision were significant at lower levels of phonetic complexity as dysarthria severity increased. Specifically, more severely impaired talkers showed significant reductions in word intelligibility and precision at both complexity levels, whereas those with milder speech impairments displayed intelligibility reductions only for more complex words. Articulatory precision was less sensitive to mild dysarthria compared to speech intelligibility for the proposed complexity-based approach.

Conclusions Considering phonetic complexity for dysarthria tests could result in more sensitive assessments for detecting and monitoring dysarthria progression.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health (R15 DC016383; PI: Kuruvilla-Dugdale). Partial support for this study also came from an NIH/NCATS Institutional Clinical and Translational Science Award (UL1TR000001). The authors would like to thank the ALS Clinics at both the University of Missouri–Columbia and University of Kansas Medical Center for assisting with participant recruitment. Special thanks to Andra Lahner and other staff at the KU Clinical and Translational Science Unit for coordinating data collection efforts at University of Kansas Medical Center. The authors would also like to acknowledge the contributions of research assistants Kelly Fousek, Abby Isabelle, Victoria Moss, and Paulina Simon for their help with data collection and analysis. We are particularly grateful to all the speakers and listeners who participated in the study.
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