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PhD Defense Vass Verkhodanova. More than words: recognizing speech of people with Parkinson’s disease

When:Th 04-11-2021 10:45 - 12:30
Where:Stadhuis, Hofplein 38, 8911HJ, Leeuwarden

On Thursday 4 November Vass Verkhodanova will defend her thesis: More than words: recognizing speech of people with Parkisnon's disease

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the fastest-growing neurological disorder in the world, with approximately 10 million people currently living with the diagnosis. Hypokinetic dysarthria (HD) is one of the symptoms that appear in early stages of the disease progression. The main aim of this dissertation is to gain insights into listeners’ impressions of dysarthric speech and to uncover acoustic correlates of those impressions. We do this by exploring two sides of communication: speech production of people with PD, and listeners’ recognition of speech of people with PD. Therefore, the studies in this dissertation approach the topic of speech changes in PD from both the speakers' side - via acoustic analysis of speech, and the listeners' side - via experiments exploring the influence of expertise and language background on recognition of speech of people with PD. Moreover, to obtain a more comprehensive picture of these perspectives, the studies of this dissertation are multifaceted, explore cross-linguistic aspects of dysarthric speech recognition and include both cross-sectional and longitudinal designs. The results demonstrate that listeners' ability to recognize speech of people with PD as unhealthy is rooted in the acoustic changes in speech, not in its content. Listeners’ experience in the fields of speech and language therapy or speech sciences affect dysarthric speech recognition. The results also suggest that tracking speech parameters is a useful tool for monitoring the progression and/or development of dysarthria and objectively evaluating long-term effects of speech therapy.