Comparison of Supraglottic Activity and Spectral Slope Between Theater Actors and Vocally Untrained Subjects

J Voice. 2016 Nov;30(6):767.e1-767.e8. doi: 10.1016/j.jvoice.2015.10.017. Epub 2015 Dec 22.


Purpose: The present study aimed to assess supraglottic activity in theater actors and to observe whether they present differences compared with subjects with no voice training. Acoustic and perceptual analyses were also performed.

Methods: A total of 20 participants were divided into two groups: an experimental group of trained theater actors, and a comparative group of subjects with no voice training. Absence of laryngeal pathology was confirmed by rigid videostroboscopy. Flexible laryngoscopy was performed to assess supraglottic activity during speaking phonatory tasks. Voice recording was also carried out. Four blinded judges were asked to assess laryngoscopic and perceptual variables using a visual analog scale. A comparison between groups, phonatory tasks, and loudness levels was performed.

Results: Multivariate linear regression showed that trained participants had a higher degree of both laryngeal and pharyngeal activities compared with untrained participants. Moreover, phonatory tasks at high intensity showed higher activity than those at medium and low intensities for most phonatory tasks and laryngoscopic parameters. Vocally trained participants evidenced higher values for all spectral variables compared with untrained participants.

Conclusion: Actors have a greater degree of both laryngeal and pharyngeal activities than vocally untrained subjects. Apparently, this higher activity is associated to speaking voice training and not to a hyperfunctional vocal behavior. Anterior-posterior laryngeal compression is greater than medial compression. Intensity and phonatory tasks have an effect on all laryngoscopic variables. Supraglottic activity during professional speaking voice may be not necessarily a hyperfunctional behavior, but a strategy to avoid vocal fold damage while producing the desired voice quality.

Keywords: Actors; Laryngeal hyperfunction; Laryngoscopy; Supraglottic activity; Voice training.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Acoustics*
  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Female
  • Glottis / anatomy & histology
  • Glottis / physiology
  • Humans
  • Judgment
  • Laryngoscopy
  • Larynx / anatomy & histology
  • Larynx / physiology*
  • Linear Models
  • Loudness Perception
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Observer Variation
  • Occupations*
  • Pharynx / anatomy & histology
  • Pharynx / physiology*
  • Phonation*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sound Spectrography
  • Speech Acoustics*
  • Speech Perception
  • Speech Production Measurement*
  • Stroboscopy
  • Video Recording
  • Voice Quality*
  • Voice Training*