Short-Latency Changes in Voice F0 and Neck Surface EMG Induced by Mechanical Perturbations of the Larynx during Sustained Vowel Phonation

Shimon Sapir*, Kristin K. Baker, Charles R. Larson, Lorraine Olson Ramig

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Nineteen healthy young adult males with normal voice and speech attempted to sustain the vowel /u/ at a constant pitch (target: 180 Hz) and a constant and comfortable loudness level while receiving a sudden mechanical perturbation to the larynx (thyroid prominence) via a servo-controlled probe. The probe moved toward or away from the larynx in a ramp-and-hold fashion (3.3-mm displacement, 0.7 N force, 20-ms rise time, 250-ms duration) as the subjects attempted to maintain a constant probe-larynx pressure. Eighty stimuli were applied in each direction, one stimulus per phonation. Pairs of surface electromyography (EMG) electrodes were attached to the skin of the anterior neck over laryngeal, infra-laryngeal, and supralaryngeal areas. The rectified EMG signals, the voltage analog of the voice fundamental frequency (VAF0), and the voltage analog of the probe displacement were digitized and signal-averaged relative to the onset of the stimulus. Sudden perturbation of the larynx induced an instantaneous decrease or increase in VAF0, depending on the direction of the probe's movement, and a short-latency increase in the EMG (30-35 ms) and VAF0 (55-65 ms). We argue that the instantaneous VAF0 change was related to a mechanical effect, and the short-latency VAF0 and EMG changes to reflexogenic effects - the latter most likely associated with both intrinsic and extrinsic laryngeal sensorimotor mechanisms. Further physiological studies are needed to elucidate the sources of the VAF0 and EMG responses. Once elucidated, the present method may provide a powerful noninvasive tool for studying laryngeal neurophysiology. The theoretical and clinical implications of the present findings are addressed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)268-276
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2000


  • Noninvasive
  • Physiology
  • Reflexes
  • Speech
  • Voice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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