Voice Onset Time in Early- and Late-Stage Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a neurodegenerative disease that affects bulbar functions including speech and voice. Voice onset time (VOT) was examined in speakers with ALS in early and late stages to explore the coordination of the articulatory and phonatory systems during speech production.VOT was measured in nonword /bap/ produced by speakers with early-stage ALS (n = 11), late-stage ALS (n = 6), and healthy controls (n = 13), and compared with speech performance decline (a marker of disease progression) in ALS.Overall comparison of the VOT values among the three groups showed a significant difference, F(2,27) = 11.71, p < .01. Speakers in late-stage ALS displayed longer voicing lead (negative VOT) than both healthy speakers and speakers in early-stage ALS. VOT was also significantly negatively correlated with speech performance (i.e., Intelligible Speaking Rate), r(15) = .74, p < .01.Speakers with more severe ALS showed greater occurrence of voicing lead and longer voicing lead. Findings show voicing precedes articulatory onset with disease progression in the production of bilabial stops, which suggests that the relative timing of coordination between the supralaryngeal structures and the phonatory system is affected in the late stage of ALS.