Systematic Studies of Modified Vocalization: Speech Production Changes During a Variation of Metronomic Speech in Persons Who Do and Do Not Stutter
The most common way to induce fluency using rhythm requires persons who stutter to speak one syllable or one word to each beat of a metronome, but stuttering can also be eliminated when the stimulus is of a particular duration (e.g., 1 s). The present study examined stuttering frequency, speech production changes, and speech naturalness during rhythmic speech that alternated 1 s of reading with 1 s of silence. A repeated-measures design was used to compare data obtained during a control reading condition and during rhythmic reading in 10 persons who stutter (PWS) and 10 normally fluent controls. Ratings for speech naturalness were also gathered from naïve listeners. Results showed that mean vowel duration increased significantly, and the percentage of short phonated intervals decreased significantly, for both groups from the control to the experimental condition. Mean phonated interval length increased significantly for the fluent controls. Mean speech naturalness ratings during the experimental condition were approximately 7 on a 1-9 scale (1 = highly natural; 9 = highly unnatural), and these ratings were significantly correlated with vowel duration and phonated intervals for PWS. The findings indicate that PWS may be altering vocal fold vibration duration to obtain fluency during this rhythmic speech style, and that vocal fold vibration duration may have an impact on speech naturalness during rhythmic speech. Future investigations should examine speech production changes and speech naturalness during variations of this rhythmic condition.