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: Boys who bully peers more likely to engage in sexual harassment

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

Social ties matter beyond bushfires

2 hours ago

In the first major release of findings from the Beyond Bushfires study of the aftermath of the Black Saturday bushfires, researchers from the University of Melbourne have been able to show the social element ...

Mom's prenatal hardship turns baby's genes on and off

3 hours ago

In January 1998 five days of freezing rain collapsed the electrical grid of the Canadian province of Québec. The storm left more than 3 million people without electricity for anywhere from a few hours to ...

Smoking rates high among people with psychotic illness

3 hours ago

The rate of smoking among people in Adelaide's northern suburbs who suffer from a psychotic illness is much greater than the national average and is contributing to other major health problems, according to new research from ...

User comments : 0

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.