Discharge characteristics of laryngeal single motor units during phonation in young and older adults and in persons with parkinson disease. (1/317)

Discharge characteristics of laryngeal single motor units during phonation in young and older adults, and in persons with Parkinson disease. The rate and variability of the firing of single motor units in the laryngeal muscles of young and older nondisordered humans and people with idiopathic Parkinson disease (IPD) were determined during steady phonation and other laryngeal behaviors. Typical firing rates during phonation were approximately 24 s/s. The highest rate observed, during a cough, was 50 s/s. Decreases in the rate and increases in the variability of motor unit firing were observed in the thyroarytenoid muscle of older and IPD male subjects but not female subjects. These gender-specific age-related changes may relate to differential effects of aging on the male and female voice characteristics. The range and typical firing rates of laryngeal motor units were similar to those reported for other human skeletal muscles, so we conclude that human laryngeal muscles are probably no faster, in terms of their contraction speed, than other human skeletal muscles. Interspike interval (ISI) variability during steady phonation was quite low, however, with average CV of approximately 10%, with a range of 5 to 30%. These values appear to be lower than typical values of the CV of firing reported in three studies of limb muscles of humans. We suggest therefore that low ISI variability is a special although not unique property of laryngeal muscles compared with other muscles of the body. This conceivably could be the result of less synaptic "noise" in the laryngeal motoneurons, perhaps as a result of suppression of local reflex inputs to these motoneurons during phonation.  (+info)

The neuromuscular control of birdsong. (2/317)

Birdsong requires complex learned motor skills involving the coordination of respiratory, vocal organ and craniomandibular muscle groups. Recent studies have added to our understanding of how these vocal subsystems function and interact during song production. The respiratory rhythm determines the temporal pattern of song. Sound is produced during expiration and each syllable is typically followed by a small inspiration, except at the highest syllable repetition rates when a pattern of pulsatile expiration is used. Both expiration and inspiration are active processes. The oscine vocal organ, the syrinx, contains two separate sound sources at the cranial end of each bronchus, each with independent motor control. Dorsal syringeal muscles regulate the timing of phonation by adducting the sound-generating labia into the air stream. Ventral syringeal muscles have an important role in determining the fundamental frequency of the sound. Different species use the two sides of their vocal organ in different ways to achieve the particular acoustic properties of their song. Reversible paralysis of the vocal organ during song learning in young birds reveals that motor practice is particularly important in late plastic song around the time of song crystallization in order for normal adult song to develop. Even in adult crystallized song, expiratory muscles use sensory feedback to make compensatory adjustments to perturbations of respiratory pressure. The stereotyped beak movements that accompany song appear to have a role in suppressing harmonics, particularly at low frequencies.  (+info)

Distinct gamma-band evoked responses to speech and non-speech sounds in humans. (3/317)

To understand spoken language, the human brain must have fast mechanisms for the representation and identification of speech sounds. Stimulus-induced synchronization of neural activity at gamma frequencies (20-80 Hz), occurring in humans at 200-300 msec from stimulus onset, has been suggested to be a possible mechanism for neural object representation. Auditory and visual stimuli also evoke an earlier (peak <100 msec) gamma oscillation, but its dependence on high-level stimulus parameters and, thereby, its involvement in object representation has remained unclear. Using whole-scalp magnetoencephalography, we show here that responses evoked by speech and non-speech sounds differed in the gamma-frequency but not in the low-frequency (0.1-20 Hz) band as early as 40-60 msec from stimulus onset. The gamma-band responses to the speech sound peaked earlier in the left than in the right hemisphere, whereas those to the non-speech sound peaked earlier in the right hemisphere. For the speech sound, there was no difference in the response amplitude between the hemispheres at low (20-45 Hz) gamma frequencies, whereas for the non-speech sound, the amplitude was larger in the right hemisphere. These results suggest that evoked gamma-band activity may indeed be sensitive to high-level stimulus properties and may hence reflect the neural representation of speech sounds. Consequently, speech-specific neuronal processing may commence no later than 40-60 msec from stimulus onset, possibly in the form of activation of language-specific memory traces.  (+info)

Somatosensory feedback modulates the respiratory motor program of crystallized birdsong. (4/317)

Birdsong, like human speech, involves rapid, repetitive, or episodic motor patterns requiring precise coordination between respiratory, vocal organ, and vocal tract muscles. The song units or syllables of most adult songbirds exhibit a high degree of acoustic stereotypy that persists for days or months after the elimination of auditory feedback by deafening. Adult song is assumed to depend on central motor programs operating independently from immediate sensory feedback. Nothing is known, however, about the possible role of mechanoreceptive or other somatosensory feedback in the motor control of birdsong. Even in the case of human speech, the question of "how and when sensory information is used in normal speaking conditions...remains unanswered" and controversial [Smith, A. (1992) Crit. Rev. Oral Biol. Med. 3, 233-267]. We report here evidence for somatosensory modulation of ongoing song motor patterns. These patterns include the respiratory muscles that, in both birdsong and speech, provide the power for vocalization. Perturbing respiratory pressure by a brief, irregularly timed injection of air into the cranial thoracic air sac during song elicited a compensatory reduction in the electrical activity of the abdominal expiratory muscles, both in hearing and deafened adult northern cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis). This muscle response was absent or reduced during quiet respiration, suggesting it is specifically linked to phonation. Our findings indicate that somatosensory feedback to expiratory muscles elicits compensatory adjustments that help stabilize, in real time, the subsyringeal pressure against fluctuations caused by changes in posture or physical activity.  (+info)

Control of oral closure in lingual stop consonant production. (5/317)

Previous work has shown that the lips are moving at a high velocity when the oral closure occurs for bilabial stop consonants, resulting in tissue compression and mechanical interactions between the lips. The present experiment recorded tongue movements in four subjects during the production of velar and alveolar stop consonants to examine kinematic events before, during, and after the stop closure. The results show that, similar to the lips, the tongue is often moving at a high velocity at the onset of closure. The tongue movements were more complex, with both horizontal and vertical components. Movement velocity at closure and release were influenced by both the preceding and the following vowel. During the period of oral closure, the tongue moved through a trajectory of usually less than 1 cm; again, the magnitude of the movement was context dependent. Overall, the tongue moved in forward-backward curved paths. The results are compatible with the idea that the tongue is free to move during the closure as long as an airtight seal is maintained. A new interpretation of the curved movement paths of the tongue in speech is also proposed. This interpretation is based on the principle of cost minimization that has been successfully applied in the study of hand movements in reaching.  (+info)

Quantitative analysis of professionally trained versus untrained voices. (6/317)

The aim of this study was to compare healthy trained and untrained voices as well as healthy and dysphonic trained voices in adults using combined voice range profile and aerodynamic tests, to define the normal range limiting values of quantitative voice parameters and to select the most informative quantitative voice parameters for separation between healthy and dysphonic trained voices. Three groups of persons were evaluated. One hundred eighty six healthy volunteers were divided into two groups according to voice training: non-professional speakers group consisted of 106 untrained voices persons (36 males and 70 females) and professional speakers group--of 80 trained voices persons (21 males and 59 females). Clinical group consisted of 103 dysphonic professional speakers (23 males and 80 females) with various voice disorders. Eighteen quantitative voice parameters from combined voice range profile (VRP) test were analyzed: 8 of voice range profile, 8 of speaking voice, overall vocal dysfunction degree and coefficient of sound, and aerodynamic maximum phonation time. Analysis showed that healthy professional speakers demonstrated expanded vocal abilities in comparison to healthy non-professional speakers. Quantitative voice range profile parameters- pitch range, high frequency limit, area of high frequencies and coefficient of sound differed significantly between healthy professional and non-professional voices, and were more informative than speaking voice or aerodynamic parameters in showing the voice training. Logistic stepwise regression revealed that VRP area in high frequencies was sufficient to discriminate between healthy and dysphonic professional speakers for male subjects (overall discrimination accuracy--81.8%) and combination of three quantitative parameters (VRP high frequency limit, maximum voice intensity and slope of speaking curve) for female subjects (overall model discrimination accuracy--75.4%). We concluded that quantitative voice assessment with selected parameters might be useful for evaluation of voice education for healthy professional speakers as well as for detection of vocal dysfunction and evaluation of rehabilitation effect in dysphonic professionals.  (+info)

Vocal dose measures: quantifying accumulated vibration exposure in vocal fold tissues. (7/317)

To measure the exposure to self-induced tissue vibration in speech, three vocal doses were defined and described: distance dose, which accumulates the distance that tissue particles of the vocal folds travel in an oscillatory trajectory; energy dissipation dose, which accumulates the total amount of heat dissipated over a unit volume of vocal fold tissues; and time dose, which accumulates the total phonation time. These doses were compared to a previously used vocal dose measure, the vocal loading index, which accumulates the number of vibration cycles of the vocal folds. Empirical rules for viscosity and vocal fold deformation were used to calculate all the doses from the fundamental frequency (F0) and sound pressure level (SPL) values of speech. Six participants were asked to read in normal, monotone, and exaggerated speech and the doses associated with these vocalizations were calculated. The results showed that large F0 and SPL variations in speech affected the dose measures, suggesting that accumulation of phonation time alone is insufficient. The vibration exposure of the vocal folds in normal speech was related to the industrial limits for hand-transmitted vibration, in which the safe distance dose was derived to be about 500 m. This limit was found rather low for vocalization; it was related to a comparable time dose of about 17 min of continuous vocalization, or about 35 min of continuous reading with normal breathing and unvoiced segments. The voicing pauses in normal speech and dialogue effectively prolong the safe time dose. The derived safety limits for vocalization will likely require refinement based on a more detailed knowledge of the differences in hand and vocal fold tissue morphology and their response to vibrational stress, and on the effect of recovery of the vocal fold tissue during voicing pauses.  (+info)

In reference to phonation larynx fixation: computer graphic record. (8/317)

The vocal apparatus serves phonation. It represents a biocybernetic self-regulating system, disposing of a feedback network of the central nervous system. The larynx is a self-induced vibrating system. The larynx, functioning as the phonation apparatus of the vocal apparatus, is a source of human voice. In every individual its frequency range corresponds to about eight semitones in speech and about two octaves of the so-called chest register in singing, denoted also as a thoracic or modal voice. This is followed by one more octave of the so-called cranial register or falsetto voice. We were interested in changes of the larynx positions at intonation in the fundamental singing registers, both modal and falsetto, in professional male singers. At our disposal were 11 professional male singers. We investigated changes in the position of the laryngeal structures simultaneously with the aid of an X-ray apparatus, the acoustic and mechanical signals registered by means of the B & K 4369 acceleration recorder. It has been found that at phonation with the modal voice a change in the position of the laryngeal structures takes place in two different ways, whereas the larynx movements at falsetto remain the same. It has been suggested that a complex fixation apparatus participates in the phonation larynx movements. Of the same complex character are also the problems connected with the examination of the entire vocal apparatus. For the purpose of compiling the present pieces of knowledge in the field of human voice studies, we have made the most advantageous use of the presently most complex system Authorware for the production of some interactive multimedial programmes on personal computers.  (+info)