Detection of Articulatory Deficits in Parkinson's Disease: Can Systematic Manipulations of Phonetic Complexity Help?

J Speech Lang Hear Res. 2020 Jul 20;63(7):2084-2098. doi: 10.1044/2020_JSLHR-19-00245. Epub 2020 Jun 29.


Purpose This study sought to determine the feasibility of using phonetic complexity manipulations as a way to systematically assess articulatory deficits in talkers with progressive dysarthria due to Parkinson's disease (PD). Method Articulatory kinematics were recorded using three-dimensional electromagnetic articulography from 15 talkers with PD (58-84 years old) and 15 healthy controls (55-80 years old) while they produced target words embedded in a carrier phrase. Majority of the talkers with PD exhibited a relatively mild dysarthria. For stimuli selection, phonetic complexity was calculated for a variety of words using the framework proposed by Kent (1992), and six words representative of low, medium, and high phonetic complexity were selected as targets. Jaw, posterior tongue, and anterior tongue kinematic measures that were used to test for phonetic complexity effects included movement speed, cumulative path distance, movement range, movement duration, and spatiotemporal variability. Results Significantly smaller movements and slower movement speeds were evident in talkers with PD, predominantly for words with high phonetic complexity. The effect sizes of between-groups differences were larger for several jaw kinematic measures than those of the tongue. Discussion and Conclusion Findings suggest that systematic manipulations of phonetic complexity can support the detection of articulatory deficits in talkers with PD. Phonetic complexity should therefore be leveraged for the assessment of articulatory performance in talkers with progressive dysarthria. Future work will be directed toward linking speech kinematic and auditory-perceptual measures to determine the clinical significance of the current findings.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Dysarthria / diagnosis
  • Dysarthria / etiology
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Parkinson Disease* / complications
  • Phonetics
  • Speech Intelligibility
  • Tongue