Previous studies have shown the importance of cricothyroid muscle activation in altering fundamental frequency in the human voice. Other studies have investigated the non-linear properties of vocal fold tissue and the impact of this non-linearity on frequency response. Several physical models of the vocal folds have been made for research purposes. However, all have been isotropic in nature with linear stress-strain properties. The purpose of this study was to create a physical model with non-linear stress-strain properties to investigate the frequency response of the model as cricothyroid muscle activation was simulated (in other words, as the vocal folds were stretched in an anterior-posterior dimension). In this study the physical models of the vocal folds were stretched in 1 mm increments and the fundamental frequency (F0) was recorded at each position. Subglottal pressure was also monitored and phonation threshold pressures were recorded for each adjustment in length and vocal fold tension, because this can influence F0. Results were obtained for models with and without non-linear properties for comparison. Tensile tests were also conducted for the linear and non-linear synthetic vocal folds. Results indicate that non-linear models demonstrated a more substantial frequency response than linear vocal fold models and a more predictable F0 increase with respect to increasing vocal fold length. Phonation threshold pressures also increased with increasing vocal fold length for non-linear vocal fold models. This trend was reversed for linear vocal fold models, with phonation threshold pressures decreasing with increasing vocal fold length. These results indicate that the non-linear vocal fold models more accurately represent the human vocal folds than do linear models. This study serves as the foundation for future research to quantify the impact of non-linear tissue properties versus active tensioning (through antagonistic thyroarytenoid muscle activation) on F0 response and phonation threshold pressure.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Communication Disorders



Date Submitted


Document Type





vocal folds, nonlinear, linear, voice, synthetic