Quantitative assessment of learning and retention in virtual vocal function exercises

Jarrad H. Van Stan*, Se Woong Park, Matthew Jarvis, Joseph Stemple, Robert E. Hillman, Dagmar Sternad, Bharath Chandrasekaran, Jack J. Jiang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose: Successful voice therapy requires the patient to learn new vocal behaviors, but little is currently known regarding how vocal motor skills are improved and retained. To quantitatively characterize the motor learning process in a clinically meaningful context, a virtual task was developed based on the Vocal Function Exercises. In the virtual task, subjects control a computational model of a ball floating on a column of airflow via modifications to mean airflow (L/s) and intensity (dB-C) to keep the ball within a target range representing a normative ratio (dB × s/L). Method: One vocally healthy female and one female with nonphonotraumatic vocal hyperfunction practiced the task for 11 days and completed retention testing 1 and 6 months later. The mapping between the two execution variables (airflow and intensity) and one error measure (proximity to the normative ratio) was evaluated by quantifying distributional variability (tolerance cost and noise cost) and temporal variability (scaling index of detrended fluctuation analysis). Results: Both subjects reduced their error over practice and retained their performance 6 months later. Tolerance cost and noise cost were positively correlated with decreases in error during early practice and late practice, respectively. After extended practice, temporal variability was modulated to align with the task’s solution manifold. Conclusions: These case studies illustrated, in a healthy control and a patient with nonphonotraumatic vocal hyperfunction, that the virtual floating ball task produces quantitative measures characterizing the learning process. Future work will further investigate the task’s potential to enhance clinical assessment and treatments involving voice control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


Dive into the research topics of 'Quantitative assessment of learning and retention in virtual vocal function exercises'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this