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J Acoust Soc Am. 1999 Sep;106(3 Pt 1):1511-22.

Morphology and development of the human vocal tract: a study using magnetic resonance imaging.

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Speech and Hearing Sciences Program, Harvard/MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA.


Magnetic resonance imaging was used to quantify the vocal tract morphology of 129 normal humans, aged 2-25 years. Morphometric data, including midsagittal vocal tract length, shape, and proportions, were collected using computer graphic techniques. There was a significant positive correlation between vocal tract length and body size (either height or weight). The data also reveal clear differences in male and female vocal tract morphology, including changes in overall vocal tract length and the relative proportions of the oral and pharyngeal cavity. These sex differences are not evident in children, but arise at puberty, suggesting that they are part of the vocal remodeling process that occurs during puberty in males. These findings have implications for speech recognition, speech forensics, and the evolution of the human speech production system, and provide a normative standard for future studies of human vocal tract morphology and development.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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