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IISc team working on tools to understand speech disorders

Bengaluru, Nov 12, 2015, DHNS 0:39 IST
The project is being developed at the Signal Processing, Interpretation and Representation (SPIRE) lab of the Electrical Engineering department of the IISc. DH FILE PHOTO
A team of researchers at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) is developing a new signal-processing technique to improve the understanding of speech disorders related to various diseases and help to develop appropriate interventions.

Explaining the technique, Dr Prasanta Kumar Ghosh, associate professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering, IISc, who is leading the project, said: “We use a procedure called electromagnetic articulography for recording the movement of articulators in the mouth during speech. We are in the process of expanding the tool repertoire.”

The project is being developed at the Signal Processing, Interpretation and Representation (SPIRE) lab of the Electrical Engineering department.

The lab is also collaborating with various hospitals to record speech articulatory movements from patients with the ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), a disease in which the nerve cells controlling muscle movement are progressively destroyed leading to muscle weakness and degeneration. This collaboration will give a better understanding of the specific aspect of articulation that gets affected in patients with the ALS and other disorders having speech-pathology symptoms, said a press release from the IISc.

Articulation of speech involves moving the muscles of mouth and tongue in an orderly fashion to produce meaningful sounds. In many speech pathologies, articulation is adversely affected leading to wrongly pronounced speech-sounds, the release added.

Patients with the ALS and other diseases such as cerebral palsy, severe asthma or those who have had their larynx (voice box) removed are often unable to produce more than whispering or slurred sounds to communicate. Dr Ghosh and his team recently developed a method to detect whispered speech even in a noisy recording.

In addition, the team is also developing speech analysis software tools which can be used to track the progress of learning a new language. “A better understanding of the underlying processes can help in building models which may be used to screen patients for specific diseases and start therapy early on,” Ghosh, said.

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