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Sex differences in the speech of persons with PD (Houle et al., 2024)

Version 2 2024-01-12, 23:29
Version 1 2023-10-27, 14:07
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posted on 2024-01-12, 23:29 authored by Nichole Houle, Taylor Feaster, Amna Mira, Kirsten Meeks, Cara E. Stepp

Background: Sex differences are apparent in the prevalence and the clinical presentation of Parkinson’s disease (PD), but their effects on speech have been less studied.

Method: Speech acoustics of persons with (34 females and 34 males) and without (age- and sex-matched) PD were examined, assessing the effects of PD diagnosis and sex on ratings of dysarthria severity and acoustic measures of phonation (fundamental frequency standard deviation, smoothed cepstral peak prominence), speech rate (net syllables per second, percent pause ratio), and articulation (articulatory–acoustic vowel space, release burst precision).

Results: Most measures were affected by PD (dysarthria severity, fundamental frequency standard deviation) and sex (smoothed cepstral peak prominence, net syllables per second, percent pause ratio, articulatory–acoustic vowel space), but without interactions between them. Release burst precision was differentially affected by sex in PD. Relative to those without PD, persons with PD produced fewer plosives with a single burst: females more frequently produced multiple bursts, whereas males more frequently produced no burst at all.

Conclusions: Most metrics did not indicate that speech production is differentially affected by sex in PD. Sex was, however, associated with disparate effects on release burst precision in PD, which deserves further study.

Supplemental Material S1. Outcomes measures were visualized as a function of speaker group and sex or speaker age.

Supplemental Material S2. Descriptive data for by sex for demographic and acoustic variables for persons with PD who received clinical ratings of dysarthria greater than 15.40.

Houle, N., Feaster, T., Mira, A., Meeks, K., & Stepp, C. E. (2024). Sex differences in the speech of persons with and without Parkinson’s disease. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 33(1), 96–116.


This work was supported by R01 DC020867 (C. E. S. and D. D. M.), R01 DC016270 (C. E. S. and F. H. G.), R01 DC015570 (C. E. S.), T32 DC013017 (C. E. S. and C. A. M.), and F32 DC020627 (N. H.) from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.