Perception and production of breathy voice quality (Park et al., 2019)

Purpose: Previous studies of speech articulation have shown that individuals who can perceive smaller differences between similar-sounding phonemes showed larger contrasts in their productions of those phonemes. Here, a similar relationship was examined between the perception and production of breathy voice quality.
Method: Twenty females with healthy voices were recruited to participate in both a voice production and a perception experiment. Each participant produced repetitions of a sustained vowel, and acoustic correlates of breathiness were calculated. Identification and discrimination tasks were performed with a series of synthetic stimuli along a breathiness continuum. Categorical boundary location and boundary width were obtained from the identification task as a measurement of perception of breathiness. Spearman’s correlation analysis was performed to estimate associations between values of boundary location and width and the acoustic correlates of breathiness from the participants’ voices.
Results: Significant correlations between boundary width (r = −.53 to −.6) and some acoustic correlates were found, but no significant relationships were observed between boundary location and the acoustic correlates.
Conclusions: Speakers with small boundary widths, which suggest higher perceptual precision in differentiating breathiness, had typical voices that were less breathy, as estimated with acoustic measures, compared to speakers with large boundary widths. Our findings may support a link between perception and production of breathy voice quality.

Supplemental Materials S1–S10. Stimuli in the breathiness continuum (1 = least breathy to 10 = most breathy); see Table 1 in Park et al. (2019) for ta and noise-to-harmonics ratio (NHR) values in each stimulus.

Park, Y., Perkell, J. S., Matthies, M. L., & Stepp, C. E. (2019). Categorization in the perception of breathy voice quality and its relation to voice production in healthy speakers. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 62, 3655–3666. https://doi.org/10.1044/2019_JSLHR-S-19-0048