Ataxic Dysarthria

Ray D. Kent, Jane Finley Kent, Joe R. Duffy, Jack E. Thomas, Gary Weismer, Sarah Stuntebeck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

95 Scopus citations


Although ataxic dysarthria has been studied with various methods in several languages, questions remain concerning which features of the disorder are most consistent, which speaking tasks are most sensitive to the disorder, and whether the different speech production subsystems are uniformly affected. Perceptual and acoustic data were obtained from 14 individuals (seven men, seven women) with ataxic dysarthria for several speaking tasks, including sustained vowel phonation, syllable repetition, sentence recitation, and conversation. Multidimensional acoustic analyses of sustained vowel phonation showed that the largest and most frequent abnormality for both men and women was a long-term variability of fundamental frequency. Other measures with a high frequency of abnormality were shimmer and peak amplitude variation (for both sexes) and jitter (for women). Syllable alternating motion rate (AMR) was typically slow and irregular in its temporal pattern. In addition, the energy maxima and minima often were highly variable across repeated syllables, and this variability is thought to reflect poorly coordinated respiratory function and inadequate articulatory/voicing control. Syllable rates tended to be slower for sentence recitation and conversation than for AMR, but the three rates were highly similar. Formant-frequency ranges during sentence production were essentially normal, showing that articulatory hypometria is not a pervasive problem. Conversational samples varied considerably across subjects in intelligibility and number of words/ morphemes in a breath group. Qualitative analyses of unintelligible episodes in conversation showed that these samples generally had a fairly well-defined syllable pattern but subjects differed in the degree to which the acoustic contrasts typical of consonant and vowel sequences were maintained. For some individuals, an intelligibility deficit occurred in the face of highly distinctive (and contrastive) acoustic patterns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1275-1289
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number1-5
StatePublished - Oct 2000


  • Acoustic analysis
  • Articulation
  • Ataxia
  • Dysarthria
  • Phonation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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