The purpose of this study was to examine the potential differences in selected acoustic measures of speech as a function of age, across sexes, and between families. The data used in this study were previously collected for a larger project on voice production at the University of Utah. Participants included 169 individuals, 79 men and 90 women, from 18 Utah families, ranging in age from 17 to 87 years. All participants had no history of articulation disorders, stroke or active neurologic disease, or severe-profound hearing loss. Participants were recorded reading two passages aloud in a sound booth. These two passages were selected as connected speech tasks from which to extract the following acoustic metrics: fricative spectral measures (center of gravity, standard deviation, skewness, and kurtosis), mean fundamental frequency (F0), semitone standard deviation (STSD), speaking time ratio, and cepstral peak prominence smoothed (CPPS). Results indicated significant aging effects on spectral center of gravity and skewness, mean F0, and STSD. There was a significant sex effect for spectral center of gravity and kurtosis, mean F0, speaking time ratio, and CPPS. Familial relationship had a significant effect for spectral skewness, STSD, and CPPS. Findings from the current study indicate that certain speech and voicing features point to a decline with age and that aging affects the speech of men and women differently. Additionally, these data suggest that related speakers may demonstrate similar patterns for prosody, voicing, and articulation behavior, although the statistical testing did not allow us to draw specific inferences about such similarities. These findings describe some normal variations in the speech production of persons of differing age, sex, and familial background. An understanding of these normal speech differences in healthy individuals is valuable for differentiating between typical and pathological speech patterns in a clinical setting.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Communication Disorders



Date Submitted


Document Type





acoustic speech measures, age, familial relationship