Model to Help Patients See How to Sound Out Words

June 10, 2010

( -- Traditionally, speech-language pathologists have relied on a patient’s sense of hearing to improve speech sounds. A team of researchers from UT Dallas is hoping to change that by creating a new high-tech tool that will allow patients to use their sense of sight to visualize the movements of the mouth during speech.

The Visual Project is made up of researchers from the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science, and School of Arts and Humanities.

The team is working to create a realistic computer animation of a patient’s tongue and lip movements during . The animation will allow patients to compare their own movements to those of an animated model, which in turn will help the patients see the changes they must make in order to produce a sound correctly.

“Speech movements of the tongue are hidden by the cheeks and lips and therefore difficult for a patient to truly visualize,” said Dr. Jennell Vick, post-doctoral fellow at the Callier Center for Communication Disorders. “Although our current technology shows these movements using dots in a three-dimensional grid, it’s not a very natural picture of what is actually happening in the mouth. The animation will allow both the patient and clinician to exploit the sense of sight.”

Dr. Thomas Campbell, professor and executive director of the Callier Center, and Dr. Rob Rennaker, associate professor in , identified the problem as one that researchers from UT Dallas could solve as an integrated team across various schools.

Researchers at the Callier Center and in the Department of Computer Science are collecting base-line data on adult talkers with and without cerebral palsy. The researchers are able to measure both disordered and typical speech movements by placing small sensors on the participants’ tongues. The sensors’ movements are tracked in real time.

The data is then transferred to colleagues who translate and process the data into a format that can be used by the animators.

“We still have a lot of testing to do, especially when it comes to collecting the data and transforming it into animation in real time,” said Vick. “We also need to identify and test the different tongue and lip movements that are common with a variety of disorders.”

An expected benefit of using animation over the current technology is being able to exaggerate the speech movements in order to make the differences more obvious to the patient. As a result, the patient will be able to pinpoint the exact placement of the tongue and lips in order to make the correct sounds.

“This technology has the potential of improving the quality of life for a wide range of patients, including stroke victims, children with speech disorders and individuals learning a second language,” said Rennaker. “In recognition of the potential clinical impact, and as a model for collaboration across schools and centers at UT Dallas, Dr. Bruce Gnade, vice president for research, has provided the resources to make this project viable and competitive at the national level.”

Explore further: Read my lips: Using multiple senses in speech perception (Video)

Related Stories

Can't Make it to a Meeting? Send a Computer Instead

August 6, 2009

( -- If you’ve ever wished you had an assistant to attend meetings with you, take notes and produce a concise summary, then you’ll be pleased to know that UT Dallas computer scientist Yang Liu hopes to one-up ...

Speech Machine May Help Kids With Cerebral Palsy

August 31, 2009

( -- A new research laboratory at the UT Dallas Callier Center for Communication Disorders is for the first time investigating speech movements in children with cerebral palsy, and the researchers have created ...

Eye Movements May Help Detect Autism

September 14, 2009

( -- Most parents will attest that infants convey their needs and interests in a variety of ways, many times without ever making a sound. For researchers in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, it is what ...

Researcher Hopes to Help People With Dysphagia

April 2, 2010

( -- Researchers from the UT Dallas Callier Center for Communication Disorders and Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation (BIR) are working together to investigate the effects of drinking water on patients with dysphagia, ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Cow embryos reveal new type of chromosome chimera

May 27, 2016

I've often wondered what happens between the time an egg is fertilized and the time the ball of cells that it becomes nestles into the uterine lining. It's a period that we know very little about, a black box of developmental ...

Shaving time to test antidotes for nerve agents

February 29, 2016

Imagine you wanted to know how much energy it took to bike up a mountain, but couldn't finish the ride to the peak yourself. So, to get the total energy required, you and a team of friends strap energy meters to your bikes ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.