Authors: Davidow JH, Ingham RJ
Title: The effect of speech rate on stuttering frequency, phonated intervals, speech effort, and speech naturalness during chorus reading
Source: Journal of Communication Disorders 2013 46(2): 202-216
Year: 2013
Research Design: Single Case Design

Purpose: This study examined the effect of speech rate on phonated intervals (PIs), in order to test whether a reduction in the frequency of short PIs is an important part of the fluency-inducing mechanism of chorus reading. The influence of speech rate on stuttering frequency, speaker-judged speech effort, and listener-judged naturalness was also examined. An added purpose was to determine if chorus reading could be further refined so as to provide a perceptual guide for gauging the level of physical effort exerted during speech production. Methods: A repeated-measures design was used to compare data obtained during control reading conditions and during several chorus reading conditions produced at different speech rates. Participants included 8 persons who stutter (PWS) between the ages of 16 and 32 years. Results: There were significant reductions in the frequency of short PIs from the habitual reading condition during slower chorus conditions, no change when speech rates were matched between habitual reading and chorus conditions, and an increase in the frequency of short PIs during chorus reading produced at a faster rate than the habitual condition. Speech rate did not have an effect on stuttering frequency during chorus reading. In general, speech effort ratings improved and naturalness ratings worsened as speech rate decreased. Conclusion: These results provide evidence that (a) a reduction in the frequency of short PIs is not necessary for fluency improvement during chorus reading, and (b) speech rate may be altered to provide PWS with a more appropriate reference for how physically effortful normally fluent speech production should be. Future investigations should examine the necessity of changes in the activation of neural regions during chorus reading, the possibility of defining individualized units on a 9-point effort scale, and if there are upper and lower speech rate boundaries for receiving ratings of "highly natural sounding" speech during chorus reading. Learning outcomes: The reader will be able to: (1) describe the effect of changes in speech rate on the frequency of short phonated intervals during chorus reading, (2) describe changes to speaker-judged speech effort as speech rate changes during chorus reading, (3) and describe the effect of changes in speech rate on listener-judged naturalness ratings during chorus reading.

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