Innovative Speech Articulation Tools for Neuroscience Research

Period of Performance: 05/11/2009 - 04/30/2010

$290K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Speech Technology/applied Research Corp.
Bedford, MA 01730
Principal Investigator
Principal Investigator
Principal Investigator

Abstract

DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Changes in speech articulation can accompany many neurological disorders and conditions. Historically, measuring these changes by acoustic analysis requires either laborious hand measurement or computer programming skill. In previous work, we have developed fast automatic computer procedures based on acoustic landmarks for a number of specific studies. These procedures considerably streamline the process of acquiring and analyzing speech production data. In multiple collaborations we have found that our method yields significant and useful results in widely separated areas of neurological interest. However, development of these procedures has proceeded in response to the particular needs of the projects and not in a way that systematically addresses the needs of outside users. In response to PA 08-114, we will expand our library of procedures into a convenient software tool for wider use by scientists with and without a background in speech research. Our software module will allow for the use of a menu of specific measures and will constitute a "plug-in" to existing analysis software tools such as Wavesurfer and the R statistical-analysis system. It will report summary statistics for the measures plus additional composite measures that we have found to be reliable indicators of the existence of speech differences between populations or conditions. Further, the tool will be set up to report data from a single audio file, or groups of audio files in a standard table format, for easy input to statistical or other analysis software. For development and testing purposes, we will test our software procedures on a database, and a disorder, for which it has not been used previously. Using this database, scientists recruited from psychology, speech-language pathology and cognitive science will test our software on the database and provide feedback. We will also survey potential users in other domains so that we can address their needs for speech analysis tools. Such a tool would "jump-start" the use of speech production analysis across a wide range of neurologically important areas of research, as envisioned by PA 08-114. PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE: We will expand our library of speech analysis procedures into a convenient software tool for wider use by scientists with and without a background in speech research. Our software module will allow for the use of a menu of specific measures and will constitute a "plug-in" to existing analysis software tools such as Wavesurfer and the R statistical- analysis system. It will report summary statistics for the measures plus additional composite measures that we have found to be reliable indicators of the existence of speech differences between populations or conditions. Further, the tool will be set up to report data from a single audio file, or groups of audio files in a standard table format, for easy input to statistical or other analysis software.