The effects of aging on voice production are well documented, including changes in loudness, pitch, and voice quality. However, one important and clinically relevant question that remains concerns the possibility that the aging of voice can be prevented or at least delayed through noninvasive methods. Indeed, discovering natural means to preserve the integrity of the human voice throughout aging could have a major impact on the quality of life of elderly adults. The objective of this study was therefore to examine the potentially positive effect of singing on voice production. To this aim, a group of 72 healthy nonsmoking adults (20-93 years old) was recruited and separated into three groups based on their singing habits. Several voice parameters were assessed (fundamental frequency [f0] mean, f0 standard deviation [SD], f0 minimum and f0 maximum, mean amplitude and amplitude SD, jitter, shimmer, and harmonic-to-noise ratio) during the sustained production of vowel /a/. Other parameters were assessed during standardized reading passage (speaking f0, speaking f0 SD). As was expected, age effects were found on most acoustic parameters with significant sex differences. Importantly, moderation analyses revealed that frequent singing moderates the effect of aging on most acoustic parameters. Specifically, in frequent singers, there was no decrease in the stability of pitch and amplitude with age, suggesting that the voice of frequent singers remains more stable in aging than the voice of non-singers, and more generally, providing empirical evidence for a positive effect of singing on voice in aging.
Keywords: aging; fundamental frequency; perturbation measures; singers; voice.
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