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The Vocal Strength Of A Lion Helps Us Understand The Weak Voice In Some Humans

Researchers in Iowa have discovered what makes a lion or tiger roar so effectively. Apparently, there is a layer of fat within large feline vocal cords that makes the vocal cords especially prone to vibrate easily with minimal exhalation effort.

What import does this have to humans?

Well, there are patients who have a very weak voice due to vocal cord atrophy as well as vocal cord paralysis. Standard interventions include voice therapy as well as surgical procedures using an implant or injectable material in order to “bulk” up the vocal cord.

In fact Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Fauquier ENT Blog*

Professional Singers Continue To Damage Their Vocal Cords

On Sept 16, 2011, the Stone Temple Pilots had to cancel their tour because their lead singer Scott Weiland was placed on voice rest due to damaged vocal cords at risk for permanent damage. Specifically, the doctors at University of Cincinnati Voice Health Center determined that he had scarring on his left vocal cord and a tremendously inflamed right vocal cord.

The left vocal cord scarring is likely from past vocal trauma that did not heal properly and is now permanently damaged whereas the right vocal cord is at risk of also becoming permanently damaged if not aggressively managed. The picture shown here is an example with inflammation involving both vocal cords. Compare this with Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Fauquier ENT Blog*

Personalized Replacement Voices For Neck Cancer Patients

micmicmic.jpgResearchers from the University of Sheffield, with collaboration of a team from the University of Edinburgh, are experimenting with a voice replacement technique for people who are about to lose their vocal cords. The group partnered with a woman that was going to have her vocal cords removed in a scheduled cancer surgery. Prior to the procedure, her voice was recorded on a computer and then used as a template to create a digitized voice that sounds very much like her. We are 100% for this new technology, as we can’t stand that terrible, scary, artificial voice converter that’s being used nowadays.

The voice was built using around seven minutes of speech from the client, which amounted to 100 sentences. This method is therefore much more practical than established `Voice Banking´ technologies which require two or three hours of recording to build a voice.

The client´s regenerated voice was developed by University of Sheffield Master´s student Zahoor Khan as part of his dissertation, with guidance from research student Sarah Creer, whose doctoral work uses the same technique to improve the voices of people with speech disorders. Their work forms part of the research done within the CAST (Clinical Application of Speech Technology) group, which is a multidisciplinary research group interested in applying speech technology in clinical areas such as assistive technology, speech and language therapy and electronic control systems.

Researchers have since assessed the quality of the recordings by getting listeners to judge the similarity of the simulated voice with the original and by asking Mrs Chapman and her family what they think of the voice. All listeners have thought the regenerated voice sounded very similar to the original.

Researchers in CAST hope to use these personalised synthetic voices in communication aids for people whose speech has become intelligible, speaking for them like a human interpreter.

Bernadette Chapman [the study subject] said: “For many years the Servox machine, or artificial larynx, has been the main means of communication for patients following laryngectomy or for those who have had severe speech impairment. The machine tends to sound very like a dalek and can be very embarrassing to use, especially in public places.”

Press release: Researchers rebuild a voice

Image: soundman1024

(hat tip: The Engineer Online)

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

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Latest Book Reviews

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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