Speech intelligibility and its phonetic and acoustic correlates were studied in a group of 10 women with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Intelligibility assessment with a word-identification test indicated that the most disrupted phonetic features pertained to velopharyngeal valving, lingual function for consonant contrasts of place and manner, and syllable shape. An acoustic signature analysis based on trajectories of the first and second formants in selected monosyllabic test words revealed that the mean slope of the second formant (F2) was reduced compared with that of a normal geriatric control group. This F2 slope reduction is interpreted to reflect loss of lingual motoneurons. Acoustic measures of phonatory function for sustained vowel prolongation demonstrated abnormalities in fundamental frequency, perturbations of frequency (litter) and amplitude (shimmer), and signal-to-noise ratio. The data for women with ALS are compared with data for a normal geriatric control group of women and with data for a group of 25 men with ALS. Although the overall ranking of errors was similar for males and females with ALS, men were more likely to have impairments of voicing in syllable-initial position.
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
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