The purpose of this study was to determine the extent to which vowel metrics are capable of distinguishing healthy from dysarthric speech and among different forms of dysarthria.


A variety of vowel metrics were derived from spectral and temporal measurements of vowel tokens embedded in phrases produced by 45 speakers with dysarthria and 12 speakers with no history of neurological disease. Via means testing and discriminant function analysis (DFA), the acoustic metrics were used to (a) detect the presence of dysarthria and (b) classify the dysarthria subtype.


Significant differences between dysarthric and healthy control speakers were revealed for all vowel metrics. However, the results of the DFA demonstrated some metrics (particularly metrics that capture vowel distinctiveness) to be more sensitive and specific predictors of dysarthria. Only the vowel metrics that captured slope of the second formant (F2) demonstrated between-group differences across the dysarthrias. However, when subjected to DFA, these metrics proved unreliable classifiers of dysarthria subtype.


The results of these analyses suggest that some vowel metrics may be useful clinically for the detection of dysarthria but may not be reliable indicators of dysarthria subtype using the current dysarthria classification scheme.


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