Purpose: The present study compared laryngeal aerodynamic function of healthy older adults (HOA) to adults with Parkinson's disease (PD) while speaking at a comfortable and increased vocal intensity.
Method: Laryngeal aerodynamic measures (subglottal pressure, peak-to-peak flow, minimum flow, and open quotient [OQ]) were compared between HOAs and individuals with PD who had a diagnosis of hypophonia. Increased vocal intensity was elicited via monaurally presented multitalker background noise.
Results: At a comfortable speaking intensity, HOAs and individuals with PD produced comparable vocal intensity, rates of vocal fold closure, and minimum flow. HOAs used smaller OQs, higher subglottal pressure, and lower peak-to-peak flow than individuals with PD. Both groups increased speaking intensity when speaking in noise to the same degree. However, HOAs produced increased intensity with greater driving pressure, faster vocal fold closure rates, and smaller OQs than individuals with PD.
Conclusions: Monaural background noise elicited equivalent vocal intensity increases in HOAs and individuals with PD. Although both groups used laryngeal mechanisms as expected to increase sound pressure level, they used these mechanisms to different degrees. The HOAs appeared to have better control of the laryngeal mechanism to make changes to their vocal intensity.