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Relationship between formant variability and auditory-motor adaptation

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Previous studies have shown that experimentally implemented formant perturbations result in production of compensatory responses in the opposite direction of the perturbations. In this study, we investigated how participants adapt to a) auditory perturbations that shift formants to a specific

Previous studies have shown that experimentally implemented formant perturbations result in production of compensatory responses in the opposite direction of the perturbations. In this study, we investigated how participants adapt to a) auditory perturbations that shift formants to a specific point in the vowel space and hence remove variability of formants (focused perturbations), and b) auditory perturbations that preserve the natural variability of formants (uniform perturbations). We examined whether the degree of adaptation to focused perturbations was different from adaptation to uniform adaptations. We found that adaptation magnitude of the first formant (F1) was smaller in response to focused perturbations. However, F1 adaptation was initially moved in the same direction as the perturbation, and after several trials the F1 adaptation changed its course toward the opposite direction of the perturbation. We also found that adaptation of the second formant (F2) was smaller in response to focused perturbations than F2 responses to uniform perturbations. Overall, these results suggest that formant variability is an important component of speech, and that our central nervous system takes into account such variability to produce more accurate speech output.

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2018-05

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Somatosensory Modulation during Speech Planning

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Previous studies have found that the detection of near-threshold stimuli is decreased immediately before movement and throughout movement production. This has been suggested to occur through the use of the internal forward model processing an efferent copy of the motor

Previous studies have found that the detection of near-threshold stimuli is decreased immediately before movement and throughout movement production. This has been suggested to occur through the use of the internal forward model processing an efferent copy of the motor command and creating a prediction that is used to cancel out the resulting sensory feedback. Currently, there are no published accounts of the perception of tactile signals for motor tasks and contexts related to the lips during both speech planning and production. In this study, we measured the responsiveness of the somatosensory system during speech planning using light electrical stimulation below the lower lip by comparing perception during mixed speaking and silent reading conditions. Participants were asked to judge whether a constant near-threshold electrical stimulation (subject-specific intensity, 85% detected at rest) was present during different time points relative to an initial visual cue. In the speaking condition, participants overtly produced target words shown on a computer monitor. In the reading condition, participants read the same target words silently to themselves without any movement or sound. We found that detection of the stimulus was attenuated during speaking conditions while remaining at a constant level close to the perceptual threshold throughout the silent reading condition. Perceptual modulation was most intense during speech production and showed some attenuation just prior to speech production during the planning period of speech. This demonstrates that there is a significant decrease in the responsiveness of the somatosensory system during speech production as well as milliseconds before speech is even produced which has implications for speech disorders such as stuttering and schizophrenia with pronounced deficits in the somatosensory system.

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2019-05

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Using Acoustic Analysis to Identify Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder in Speakers

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The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between acoustic indicators in speech and the presence of orofacial myofunctional disorder (OMD). This study analyzed the first and second formant frequencies (F1 and F2) of the four corner vowels

The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between acoustic indicators in speech and the presence of orofacial myofunctional disorder (OMD). This study analyzed the first and second formant frequencies (F1 and F2) of the four corner vowels [/i/, /u/, /æ/ and /ɑ/] found in the spontaneous speech of thirty participants. It was predicted that speakers with orofacial myofunctional disorder would have a raised F1 and F2 because of habitual low and anterior tongue positioning. This study concluded no significant statistical differences in the formant frequencies. Further inspection of the total vowel space area of the OMD speakers suggested that OMD speakers had a smaller, more centralized vowel space. We concluded that more study of the total vowel space area for OMD speakers is warranted.

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2020-05

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Startle-evoked movement in multi-jointed, two-dimensional reaching tasks

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Previous research has shown that a loud acoustic stimulus can trigger an individual's prepared movement plan. This movement response is referred to as a startle-evoked movement (SEM). SEM has been observed in the stroke survivor population where results have shown

Previous research has shown that a loud acoustic stimulus can trigger an individual's prepared movement plan. This movement response is referred to as a startle-evoked movement (SEM). SEM has been observed in the stroke survivor population where results have shown that SEM enhances single joint movements that are usually performed with difficulty. While the presence of SEM in the stroke survivor population advances scientific understanding of movement capabilities following a stroke, published studies using the SEM phenomenon only examined one joint. The ability of SEM to generate multi-jointed movements is understudied and consequently limits SEM as a potential therapy tool. In order to apply SEM as a therapy tool however, the biomechanics of the arm in multi-jointed movement planning and execution must be better understood. Thus, the objective of our study was to evaluate if SEM could elicit multi-joint reaching movements that were accurate in an unrestrained, two-dimensional workspace. Data was collected from ten subjects with no previous neck, arm, or brain injury. Each subject performed a reaching task to five Targets that were equally spaced in a semi-circle to create a two-dimensional workspace. The subject reached to each Target following a sequence of two non-startling acoustic stimuli cues: "Get Ready" and "Go". A loud acoustic stimuli was randomly substituted for the "Go" cue. We hypothesized that SEM is accessible and accurate for unrestricted multi-jointed reaching tasks in a functional workspace and is therefore independent of movement direction. Our results found that SEM is possible in all five Target directions. The probability of evoking SEM and the movement kinematics (i.e. total movement time, linear deviation, average velocity) to each Target are not statistically different. Thus, we conclude that SEM is possible in a functional workspace and is not dependent on where arm stability is maximized. Moreover, coordinated preparation and storage of a multi-jointed movement is indeed possible.

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2016-12

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Development of a MATLAB Software to Localize the ‘Hotspot’ for TMS Studies

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Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive brain stimulation technique used in a variety of research settings, including speech neuroscience studies. However, one of the difficulties in using TMS for speech studies is the time that it takes to localize

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive brain stimulation technique used in a variety of research settings, including speech neuroscience studies. However, one of the difficulties in using TMS for speech studies is the time that it takes to localize the lip motor cortex representation on the scalp. For my project, I used MATLAB to create a software package that facilitates the localization of the ‘hotspot’ for TMS studies in a systematic, reliable manner. The software sends TMS pulses at certain locations, collects electromyography (EMG) data, and extracts motor-evoked potentials (MEPs) to help users visualize the resulting muscle activation. In this way, users can systematically find the subject’s hotspot for TMS stimulation of the motor cortex. The hotspot detection software was found to be an effective and efficient improvement on previous localization methods.

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2022-05