Correlates of vowel clarity in the spectrotemporal modulation domain: Application to speech impairment evaluation

J Acoust Soc Am. 2022 Nov;152(5):2675. doi: 10.1121/10.0015024.


This article reports on vowel clarity metrics based on spectrotemporal modulations of speech signals. Motivated by previous findings on the relevance of modulation-based metrics for speech intelligibility assessment and pathology classification, the current study used factor analysis to identify regions within a bi-dimensional modulation space, the magnitude power spectrum, as in Elliott and Theunissen [(2009). PLoS Comput. Biol. 5(3), e1000302] by relating them to a set of conventional acoustic metrics of vowel space area and vowel distinctiveness. Two indices based on the energy ratio between high and low modulation rates across temporal and spectral dimensions of the modulation space emerged from the analyses. These indices served as input for measurements of central tendency and classification analyses that aimed to identify vowel-related speech impairments in French native speakers with head and neck cancer (HNC) and Parkinson dysarthria (PD). Following the analysis, vowel-related speech impairment was identified in HNC speakers, but not in PD. These results were consistent with findings based on subjective evaluations of speech intelligibility. The findings reported are consistent with previous studies indicating that impaired speech is associated with attenuation in energy in higher spectrotemporal modulation bands.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustics
  • Dysarthria* / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Language
  • Speech Disorders*
  • Speech Intelligibility