Dependence of phonation threshold pressure on vocal tract acoustics and vocal fold tissue mechanics

J Acoust Soc Am. 2006 Apr;119(4):2351-62. doi: 10.1121/1.2173516.


Analytical and computer simulation studies have shown that the acoustic impedance of the vocal tract as well as the viscoelastic properties of vocal fold tissues are critical for determining the dynamics and the energy transfer mechanism of vocal fold oscillation. In the present study, a linear, small-amplitude oscillation theory was revised by taking into account the propagation of a mucosal wave and the inertive reactance (inertance) of the supraglottal vocal tract as the major energy transfer mechanisms for flow-induced self-oscillation of the vocal fold. Specifically, analytical results predicted that phonation threshold pressure (Pth) increases with the viscous shear properties of the vocal fold, but decreases with vocal tract inertance. This theory was empirically tested using a physical model of the larynx, where biological materials (fat, hyaluronic acid, and fibronectin) were implanted into the vocal fold cover to investigate the effect of vocal fold tissue viscoelasticity on Pth. A uniform-tube supraglottal vocal tract was also introduced to examine the effect of vocal tract inertance on Pth. Results showed that Pth decreased with the inertive impedance of the vocal tract and increased with the viscous shear modulus (G") or dynamic viscosity (eta') of the vocal fold cover, consistent with theoretical predictions. These findings supported the potential biomechanical benefits of hyaluronic acid as a surgical bioimplant for repairing voice disorders involving the superficial layer of the lamina propria, such as scarring, sulcus vocalis, atrophy, and Reinke's edema.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Elasticity
  • Glottis / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Models, Anatomic
  • Oscillometry
  • Phonation / physiology*
  • Pulmonary Ventilation / physiology*
  • Speech Acoustics*
  • Viscosity
  • Vocal Cords / physiology*