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The relationship between cognitive ability and speech performance under AAF conditions
A. Lowit, B. Brendel, & P. Howell

Altered auditory feedback (AAF) has recently received renewed attention in the treatment of Parkinson's Disease (PD). Studies in the late 80’s indicated that such tools can successfully improve the intelligibility of these speakers by slowing their speech rate. However, it was also found that many speakers with PD did not respond to this treatment, i.e. did not slow down under these conditions. Dagenais et al. (1998, 1999) investigated these issues further and hypothesised that the cognitive abilities of the speaker affected the degree to which AAF was effective in reducing rate and improving intelligibility. In particular, resource allocation difficulties, as evident in a decreased dual tasking ability were implicated in the reduced effects of AAF. However, no study has to date published data on how subjects with dual tasking impairment perform under AAF to lend support to this hypothesis. The aim of the current study was therefore to investigate the relationship between cognitive state and speech performance under AAF conditions.

Three speaker groups were assessed, 20 speakers with PD, 20 healthy control subjects, and 20 participants with cognitive decline but no speech problems. All subjects were screened for dysarthria and hearing problems. They then underwent cognitive testing (a dementia screening test (ACE) and various attention tests (TEA)), and performed speech tasks under no altered feedback and delayed auditory feedback (DAF) conditions. Results will be presented in relation to all subjects’ responses to DAF as measured by changes in articulation rate and pausing behaviour. These data will be correlated with the results for their cognitive skills.

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