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Acta Physiol (Oxf). 2006 Mar;186(3):233-46.

Breathing pattern and kinematics in normal subjects during speech, singing and loud whispering.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Section of Immunoallergology and Respiratory Disease, Università di Firenze, 50134 Firenze, Italy.



We used for the first time a non-invasive optoelectronic plethysmography to assess breathing movements and to provide a quantitative description of chest wall kinematics during phonation.


Volumes of different chest wall compartments (abdomen and lung apposed to rib cage and abdomen) were assessed using optoelectronic plethysmography in 16 normal Italians (eight men) during reading, singing and high-effort whispering (HW).


During phonation the breathing pattern was different from quiet breathing and exercise. (1) During phonation, tidal volume and expiratory time increased while inspiratory time decreased. The expiratory volume changes and flows during HW were considerably greater than during vocalization. During HW, the overall end-expiratory thoracic volume significantly decreased as a result of decreased volume of all compartments and essentially impinged on the maximal expiratory flow-volume curve. (2) While, as previously shown, during exercise the expired volume is due entirely to the abdomen, during phonation all three chest wall compartments contribute to it. Under all conditions studied breathing was, on average, more costal in females than in males but this was mainly related to different size rather than gender per se.


Physical characteristics have a greater importance than gender in determining breathing pattern and chest wall kinematics during phonation. The activity of the control of expiration during phonation is more complex than during exercise.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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