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J Acoust Soc Am. 2010 Dec;128(6):3747-56. doi: 10.1121/1.3506349.

Acoustic analysis of the effects of sustained wakefulness on speech.

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Department of Otolaryngology, The University of Melbourne, 550 Swanston Street, Parkville, Victoria 3010, Australia.


Exposing healthy adults to extended periods of wakefulness is known to induce changes in psychomotor functioning [Maruff et al. (2005). J. Sleep Res. 14, 21-27]. The effect of fatigue on speech is less well understood. To date, no studies have examined the pitch and timing of neurologically healthy individuals over 24 h of sustained wakefulness. Therefore, speech samples were systematically acquired (e.g., every 4 h) from 18 healthy adults over 24 h. Stimuli included automated and extemporaneous speech tasks, sustained vowel, and a read passage. Measures of timing, frequency and spectral energy were derived acoustically using PRAAT and significant changes were observed on all tasks. The effect of fatigue on speech was found to be strongest just before dawn (after 22 h). Specifically, total speech time, mean pause length, and total signal time all increased as a function of increasing levels of fatigue on the reading tasks; percentage pause and mean pause length decreased on the counting task; F4 variation decreased on the sustained vowel tasks /a:/; and alpha ratio increased on the extemporaneous speech tasks. These findings suggest that acoustic methodologies provide objective data on central nervous system functioning and that changes in speech production occur in healthy adults after just 24 h of sustained wakefulness.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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