Comparison of speech production in upright and supine position

J Acoust Soc Am. 2007 Jul;122(1):532-41. doi: 10.1121/1.2715659.


Speech is usually produced in an upright sitting or standing posture. Measurements and judgments of speech may be made in conditions requiring a supine position, however. These conditions include MRI recordings, and oral procedures, such as, adjustments to dental appliances, medical and surgical procedures. It is of interest, therefore, to see whether gravity has strong or systematic effects on tongue behavior. In the present study, 13 subjects repeated several words, which contained extreme consonant and vowel tongue positions, during upright and supine condition. Ultrasound imaging provided midsagittal tongue contours, in each condition, for comparison. A neck brace was used to stabilize transducer placement and the palate was used as a physiological reference to register the data sets. Results showed a significant subject effect. In supine position the tongue was more posterior than upright for seven subjects, more anterior for two subjects and varied by phoneme for four subjects. However, there was no significant phoneme effect. The direction of change and the amount of change were not directly related. Most subjects had small upright-supine differences. The largest differences, less than 3 mm on average, were in the posterior tongue.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Gravitation*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Movement*
  • Palate / diagnostic imaging
  • Phonetics*
  • Posture / physiology*
  • Sound Spectrography
  • Speech / physiology*
  • Speech Articulation Tests
  • Supine Position
  • Tongue / diagnostic imaging
  • Tongue / physiology*
  • Ultrasonography
  • Voice Quality