Free-classification of perceptually similar speakers with dysarthria

Kaitlin L. Lansford, Julie Liss, Rebecca E. Norton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Purpose: In this investigation, the construct of perceptual similarity was explored in the dysarthrias. Specifically, we employed an auditory free-classification task to determine whether listeners could cluster speakers by perceptual similarity, whether the clusters mapped to acoustic metrics, and whether the clusters were constrained by dysarthria subtype diagnosis.

Method: Twenty-three listeners blinded to speakers’ medical and dysarthria subtype diagnoses participated. The task was to group together (drag and drop) the icons corresponding to 33 speakers with dysarthria on the basis of how similar they sounded. Cluster analysis and multidimensional scaling (MDS) modeled the perceptual dimensions underlying similarity. Acoustic metrics and perceptual judgments were used in correlation analyses to facilitate interpretation of the derived dimensions.

Results: Six clusters of similar-sounding speakers and 3 perceptual dimensions underlying similarity were revealed. The clusters of similar-sounding speakers were not constrained by dysarthria subtype diagnosis. The 3 perceptual dimensions revealed by MDS were correlated with metrics for articulation rate, intelligibility, and vocal quality, respectively.

Conclusions: This study shows (a) feasibility of a freeclassification approach for studying perceptual similarity in dysarthria, (b) correspondence between acoustic and perceptual metrics to clusters of similar-sounding speakers, and (c) similarity judgments transcended dysarthria subtype diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2051-2064
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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