Speech Deterioration in Parkinson's Disease

We study the acoustics and kinematics of speech in hypokinetic dysarthria


What we do

This joint PhD-project of the University of Groningen and Macquarie University is focused on speech deterioration in Parkinson’s disease (PD) with a specific focus on articulation.

Approximately 70-90 percent of patients who are diagnosed with PD show difficulty with phonation, intensity, prosody and articulation of speech. Together, these symptoms are called hypokinetic dysarthria. Our project investigates articulation in hypokinetic dysarthria via both acoustic and kinematic (i.e. movement of the tongue, lips and jaw) measures. Specifically, we study the velocity, the amplitude and the coordination of articulators that are used for the production of speech. In order to rule out the chance that drug treatment has an effect on patients' speech, a pilot study will be carried out in which spontaneous speech from both PD patients and healthy controls will be recorded multiple times after drug administration. Results of the pilot study will provide input for the second phase of the project in which kinematic speech measurements will be obtained using electromagnetic articulography.


How we do it

We use both 'tradional' acoustic measures to study dysarthria as well as a novel method called electromagnetic articulography (EMA).

The acoustic measures will be gained by recording patients' speech, after which information on pitch, prosody and articulation can be derived from the speech signal. In addition, the EMA measures will provide detailed kinematic information about the movements of the articulators that are involved in the production of speech. EMA is a technique which makes use of sensors that are placed on the lips, incisors and tongue body. These sensors can be tracked in real time, which allows us to measure the velocity, amplitude and place of articulation. See the YouTube video below to get an idea of what the output looks like:


Our Aim

Results of the overall project have a clear clinical purpose. As speech is often one of the first symptoms of PD, knowledge gained within this project can improve diagnosis, monitoring and therapy.

Clear results from the present project might lead to the inclusion of speech measurements in the diagnostic protocol of PD. In addition, this project can provide a new method on monitoring progression of the disease, if speech indeed turns out to be unaffected by drug treatment. Last, when we gain more knowledge on the articulatory processes that underlie speech production in PD, this can also aid the development of novel therapeutic tools.


Who we are

Our team consists of the following people

Prof. Dr. Ben Maassen.

University of Groningen

Ben Maassen is an expert in the fields of Dyslexia; Clinical Neuropsychology; Neuroscience; Speech-Language Pathology

Dr. Roel Jonkers

University of Groningen

Roel Jonkers is an expert in the field of aphasiology, psycholinguistics and speech-language pathology.

Dr. Michael Proctor

Macquarie University

Michael Proctor investigates speech production and perception, and phonological organization in human language.

Dr. Martijn Wieling

University of Groningen

Martijn Wieling works on articulography, dialectometry and statistics (mixed-effects regression, generalized additive modeling)

Jidde Jacobi, PhD-student

University of Groningen / Macquarie University

Jidde Jacobi is working as a PhD-student on the project. He has a background in phonetics, neuro- and psycholinguistics.

Teja Rebernik, research assistant

University of Groningen

Teja Rebernik works as a research assistant on the project.


Contact Us

If you would like to learn more about us or participate in our experiments than please let us know!

Jidde Jacobi
Email: j.jacobi@rug.nl