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J Acoust Soc Am. 2011 Jan;129(1):350-67. doi: 10.1121/1.3514381.

Quantitative acoustic measurements for characterization of speech and voice disorders in early untreated Parkinson's disease.

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  • 1Department of Circuit Theory, Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Czech Technical University in Prague, Technicka 2, 116 27, Prague 6, Czech Republic.


An assessment of vocal impairment is presented for separating healthy people from persons with early untreated Parkinson's disease (PD). This study's main purpose was to (a) determine whether voice and speech disorder are present from early stages of PD before starting dopaminergic pharmacotherapy, (b) ascertain the specific characteristics of the PD-related vocal impairment, (c) identify PD-related acoustic signatures for the major part of traditional clinically used measurement methods with respect to their automatic assessment, and (d) design new automatic measurement methods of articulation. The varied speech data were collected from 46 Czech native speakers, 23 with PD. Subsequently, 19 representative measurements were pre-selected, and Wald sequential analysis was then applied to assess the efficiency of each measure and the extent of vocal impairment of each subject. It was found that measurement of the fundamental frequency variations applied to two selected tasks was the best method for separating healthy from PD subjects. On the basis of objective acoustic measures, statistical decision-making theory, and validation from practicing speech therapists, it has been demonstrated that 78% of early untreated PD subjects indicate some form of vocal impairment. The speech defects thus uncovered differ individually in various characteristics including phonation, articulation, and prosody.

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