Measuring fatigue through the voice

Dec 22, 2010

What can scientists learn from watching a group of people sitting around, chatting, playing movies, reading, and happily making new friends? Quite a lot, says University of Melbourne, Australia acoustician Adam Vogel, who carefully observed this sort of group in a fatigue management study he and his colleagues describe this month in The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America.

Their report shows the effects of sustained wakefulness on speech and describes a novel method to acoustically analyze the effects of fatigue on the as revealed through speech.

The findings are significant to workers, employers, public safety officials, and military leaders who are concerned with managing fatigue over long shifts, notes Vogel.

"There is increasing interest in the development of objective non-invasive systems that can be used to assist the identification and management of fatigue in both health and workplace settings," he says.

Measuring fatigue by analyzing a person's speech and quantifying any changes from their normal, rested speech may enable doctors to make objective decisions about a person's ability to function in a . It may also be a useful tool for monitoring fatigue in clinical trials where is a key measured outcome.

The Australian study involved 18 young adults who provided speech samples (sustained vowels, reading counting and reading tasks) every two hours. Vogel and his colleagues looked at components of speech such as length of pauses and total time to complete a spoken task. Their results showed that as progresses, speech slows and variations in pitch increase and tone diminishes. Their conclusion is that we have less control over the muscles that produce speech as we become more and more tired.

"Although remaining awake for 24 hours is physically and mentally exhausting, it's actually a great way to make new friends," notes Vogel. "Most of them just entertained themselves between testing by watching movies, reading or talking amongst themselves."

Explore further: Child burn effects far reaching for parents

More information: The article, "Acoustic analysis of the effects of sustained wakefulness on speech" by Adam P. Vogel, Janet Fletcher, and Paul Maruff appears in The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. See: scitation.aip.org/JASA

Provided by American Institute of Physics

4.5 /5 (4 votes)

Related Stories

Adults with dyslexia have problems with non-speech sounds too

Jun 01, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Dyslexia is usually associated with persistent reading, spelling, and sometimes speech difficulties that are hard to overcome. One theory proposed to explain the condition is that people with dyslexia suffer ...

When do babies develop a love of speech?

Feb 20, 2006

Is the newborn preference for speech innate, developed in utero or acquired during the early days post-partum? McGill University psychologist Dr Athena Vouloumanos says she's broken the uterine sound barrier ...

Where the brain makes sense of speech

Dec 19, 2007

Researchers have identified regions of the brain where speech sounds are perceived as having abstract meaning, rather than as just a stream of sensory input. They said their identification of the regions demonstrates that ...

Recommended for you

Our brains are hardwired for language

30 minutes ago

A groundbreaking study published in PLOS ONE by Prof. Iris Berent of Northeastern University and researchers at Harvard Medical School shows the brains of individual speakers are sensitive to language univer ...

Child burn effects far reaching for parents

5 hours ago

Parents of burn victims experience significant psychological distress for at least three months after the incident and may compromise the post-operative recovery of their child, WA research has found.

Internet use may cut retirees' depression

5 hours ago

Spending time online has the potential to ward off depression among retirees, particularly among those who live alone, according to research published online in The Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences an ...

Classifying cognitive styles across disciplines

5 hours ago

Educators have tried to boost learning by focusing on differences in learning styles. Management consultants tout the impact that different decision-making styles have on productivity. Various fields have ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Study recalculates costs of combination vaccines

One of the most popular vaccine brands for children may not be the most cost-effective choice. And doctors may be overlooking some cost factors when choosing vaccines, driving the market toward what is actually a more expensive ...

Researchers discover target for treating dengue fever

Two recent papers by a University of Colorado School of Medicine researcher and colleagues may help scientists develop treatments or vaccines for Dengue fever, West Nile virus, Yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis and other ...

Hackathon team's GoogolPlex gives Siri extra powers

(Phys.org) —Four freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania have taken Apple's personal assistant Siri to behave as a graduate-level executive assistant which, when asked, is capable of adjusting the temperature ...

Better thermal-imaging lens from waste sulfur

Sulfur left over from refining fossil fuels can be transformed into cheap, lightweight, plastic lenses for infrared devices, including night-vision goggles, a University of Arizona-led international team ...