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J Acoust Soc Am. 1996 Sep;100(3):1819-34.

Accurate recovery of articulator positions from acoustics: new conclusions based on human data.

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Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico 87545, USA.


Vocal tract models are often used to study the problem of mapping from the acoustic transfer function to the vocal tract area function (inverse mapping). Unfortunately, results based on vocal tract models are strongly affected by the assumptions underlying the models. In this study, the mapping from acoustics (digitized speech samples) to articulation (measurements of the positions of receiver coils placed on the tongue, jaw, and lips) is examined using human data from a single speaker: Simultaneous acoustic and articulator measurements made for vowel-to-vowel transitions, /g/ closures, and transitions into and out of /g/ closures. Articulator positions were measured using an EMMA system to track coils placed on the lips, jaw, and tongue. Using these data, look-up tables were created that allow articulator positions to be estimated from acoustic signals. On a data set not used for making look-up tables, correlations between estimated and actual coil positions of around 94% and root-mean-squared errors around 2 mm are common for coils on the tongue. An error source evaluation shows that estimating articulator positions from quantized acoustics gives root-mean-squared errors that are typically less than 1 mm greater than the errors that would be obtained from quantizing the articulator positions themselves. This study agrees with and extends previous studies of human data by showing that for the data studied, speech acoustics can be used to accurately recover articulator positions.

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