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IFMA Preventive Health Management Inc.

Institute for Medical Advancement

New York, USA

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Significant Changes of Voice Characteristics

Speaking behavior and voice sound characteristics typically show "natural" fluctuations over time due to the test persons’ interactions with the immediate environment. Occasionally one can observe significant long-term changes of a few days or even weeks caused by mental health problems or adverse reactions to chronic stress. The line between "natural fluctuations" and "significant changes" essentially depends on spoken language, gender, age, as well as type of speech, such as automatic speech ("counting"), emotionally neutral, or emotionally charged speech.

Normative Data of 613 Healthy Volunteers

In order to decide on the significance of changes we relied on normative data from repeated assessments on 613 healthy subjects stratified according to (1) gender and age: age range 18-65 years; (2) the "stress-timed" languages English and German; and (3) the "syllable-timed" languages French, Italian, and Spanish. All test persons contributed 2 repeated speech recordings at 14 day intervals encompassing 3 different types of text. This approach allowed us to analyse the stability and natural variability of the major voice parameters as well as their sensitivity to form and content of spoken text. Thus, we were able to determine boundaries for the "natural fluctuations" of voice characteristics as a function of gender, age, and spoken language.

Threshold Values from Psychiatric Patients

These normative data from healthy subjects were complemented by threshold values from psychiatric patients under treatment with a clinical diagnosis of major depression, schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder (n=598).

More to Explore

Zhang M, Bridler R, Mohr C, Moragrega I, Sun N, Xu Z, Yang Z, Possenti M, Stassen HH: Early Detection of the Risk of Developing Psychiatric Disorders: A Study of 461 Chinese University Students under Chronic Stress. Psychopathology 2019; 52(6): 367-377
Braun S, Annovazzi C, Botella C, Bridler B, Camussi E, Delfino JP, Mohr C, Moragrega I, Papagno C, Pisoni A, Soler C, Seifritz E, Stassen HH: Assessing Chronic Stress, Coping Skills and Mood Disorders through Speech Analysis. A Self- Assessment "Voice App" for Laptops, Tablets, and Smartphones. Psychopathology 2016; 49(6): 406-419
Braun S, Botella C, Bridler R, Chmetz F, Delfino JP, Herzig D, Kluckner VJ, Mohr C, Moragrega I, Schrag Y, Seifritz E, Soler C, Stassen HH: Affective State and Voice: Cross-Cultural Assessment of Speaking Behavior and Voice Sound Characteristics. A Normative Multi-Center Study of 577+36 Healthy Subjects. Psychopathology 2014; 47(5): 327-340
vSpacer Stability of speech parameters over time
Stability of voice parameters "mean vocal pitch" and "6db-bandwidth" as a function of time (healthy volunteers): the first assessment is plotted along the x-axis and the second assessment 14 days later along the y-axis.
While mean vocal pitch displays a high stability over time, the voice parameter "6db-bandwidth" (measuring intonation) is much less stable. The experimental condition is "counting/frehand speech".
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