This investigation was motivated by observations that when persons with dysarthria increase loudness their speech improves. Some studies have indicated that this improvement may be related to an increase of prosodic variation. Studies have reported an increase of fundamental frequency (FO) variation with increased loudness, but there has been no examination of the relation of loudness manipulation to specific prosodic variables that are known to aid a listener in parsing out meaningful information. This study examined the relation of vocal loudness production to selected acoustic variables known to inform listeners of phrase and sentence boundaries: specifically, FO declination and final-word lengthening. Ten young, healthy women were audio-recorded while they read aloud a paragraph at what each considered normal loudness, twice-normal loudness, and half-normal loudness. Results showed that there was a statistically significant increase of FO declination, brought about by a higher resetting of FO at the beginning of a sentence and an increase of final-word lengthening from the half-normal loudness condition to the twice-normal loudness condition. These results suggest that when some persons with dysarthria increase loudness, variables related to prosody may change, which in turn contributes to improvement in communicative effectiveness. However, until this procedure is tested with individuals who have dysarthria, it is uncertain whether a similar effect would be observed.
- Loudness production