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Effects of Multi-talker Noise on Conversational Speech Intensity in Parkinson’s Disease
Scott G. Adams, Bon-Hi Moon, Allyson Dykstra, Kayla Abrams, Mary Jenkins, and Mandar Jog

The purpose of the present study was to examine the effects of different levels of multi-talker background noise on conversational speech intensity in individuals with hypophonia due to Parkinson’s disease (PD). Ten PD subjects and 10 normal control (NC) subjects were engaged in conversation while they were randomly presented with 5 levels of multi-talker background noise (50, 55, 60, 65, and 70 dB). In a second condition, subjects were asked to imitate 3 speech intensity targets (60, 70, and 80 dB). As the multi-talker noise increased there was a significant increase in speech intensity in both PD and NC subjects, however, PD subjects had significantly lower (2-3 dB) speech intensity than the NC subjects at each noise level examined. PD subjects also had significantly lower (3-4 dB) speech intensity for each of the imitation targets examined. The present study provides support for the notion of an underestimation of speech intensity in PD and also highlights the potentially powerful and positive effects of background noise on speech intensity production in PD. Future studies are required to determine if the Lombard effect can be incorporated into novel methods of treatment for individuals with hypophonia due to PD.

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