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Applying speech analysis methods to clinical problems


IAP and Spring


24: Linguistics and Philosophy

Faculty Supervisor:

Dr Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel

Faculty email:


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Project Description

This project is designed to compare the patterns of irregular vocal fold vibration in typical healthy speakers with those in speakers being treated for heart-disease-related edema. Typical speakers often use irregular pitch periods (IPPs) to signal prosodically significant events, such as the beginnings and ends of phrases and the onsets of prominent, i.e. pitch-accented, syllables. The hypothesis to be tested is that patients with edema show a different pattern of IPP use, and may regain the ability to produce IPPs at prosodically significant locations as their edema recedes during treatment. In this UROP you will learn to recognize IPPs in the speech signal, apply an existing algorithm for automatically detecting these events, determine the prosodically significant events in recordings of patients’ speech, and analyse the relationship between existing hand-labelled IPP distributions and those detected automatically. Pays $13/hour, requires a commitment of 20 hours per week during IAP and 10 hours per week during the spring term, with some possibility of extension into the summer.


This position is appropriate if you are interested in combining linguistic phonetics and computer science tools to explore using speech measurements to estimate the effectiveness of clinical treatments. Familiarity with matlab and python will be an advantage, as will some exposure to signal processing and/or introductory linguistics.