Influence of consonant voicing characteristics on sentence production in abductor versus adductor spasmodic dysphonia

Michael P Cannito, Lesya B Chorna, Joel C Kahane, James P Dworkin
Journal of Voice 2014, 28 (3): 394.e13-22

OBJECTIVES/HYPOTHESIS: This study evaluated the hypotheses that sentence production by speakers with adductor (AD) and abductor (AB) spasmodic dysphonia (SD) may be differentially influenced by consonant voicing and manner features, in comparison with healthy, matched, nondysphonic controls.

STUDY DESIGN: This was a prospective, single blind study, using a between-groups, repeated measures design for the independent variables of perceived voice quality and sentence duration.

METHODS: Sixteen subjects with ADSD and 10 subjects with ABSD, as well as 26 matched healthy controls produced four short, simple sentences that were systematically loaded with voiced or voiceless consonants of either obstruant or continuant manner categories. Experienced voice clinicians, who were "blind" as to speakers' group affixations, used visual analog scaling to judge the overall voice quality of each sentence. Acoustic sentence durations were also measured.

RESULTS: Speakers with ABSD or ADSD demonstrated significantly poorer than normal voice quality on all sentences. Speakers with ABSD exhibited longer than normal duration for voiceless consonant sentences. Speakers with ADSD had poorer voice quality for voiced than for voiceless consonant sentences. Speakers with ABSD had longer durations for voiceless than for voiced consonant sentences.

CONCLUSIONS: The two subtypes of SD exhibit differential performance on the basis of consonant voicing in short, simple sentences; however, each subgroup manifested voicing-related differences on a different variable (voice quality vs sentence duration). Findings suggest different underlying pathophysiological mechanisms for ABSD and ADSD. Findings also support inclusion of short, simple sentences containing voiced or voiceless consonants as part of the diagnostic protocol for SD, with measurement of sentence duration in addition to judments of voice quality severity.

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