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Perceptual and Acoustic Correlates of the Normal Aging Voice
Elaine Stathopoulos, Joan Sussman, Jessica E. Huber

There is ample evidence that all body systems, including muscle and neuromuscular systems, deteriorate with age. Videostroboscopic views of elder’s vocal folds show large glottal opening and vocal fold bowing suggesting age-related loss of laryngeal muscle function. Normal elderly voice has been typified by weak, breathy, and hoarse vocal quality. Systematic delineation of perceptual/acoustic/physiologic function is necessary in order to design the most efficacious therapy techniques to improve voice quality in normal elders. The purpose of the investigation was to identify the strength of the relationship between perceptual and acoustic voice characteristics. Male and female speakers between the ages of 20 and 90 years were included for study. Perceptual ratings of specific voice characteristics of weak/strong (corresponding to sound pressure level (SPL)), poor/good (overall sound of voice), rough/smooth (corresponding to breathiness, hoarseness), and shaky/even (corresponding to tremor) were completed. Perceptual cues will be analyzed relative to their correspondence to the acoustic signal. Acoustic measures (fundamental frequency, SPL, jitter, shimmer, noise indices, and tremor) show significant voice changes occur in 70, 80, and 90 year olds, with some acoustic differences among the three elderly groups.

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