An auditory-perceptual and pupillometric study of vocal strain and listening effort in adductor spasmodic dysphonia
Applied Sciences (Switzerland)
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© 2020 by the authors. This study evaluated ratings of vocal strain and perceived listening effort by normal hearing participants while listening to speech samples produced by talkers with adductor spasmodic dysphonia (AdSD). In addition, objective listening effort was measured through concurrent pupillometry to determine whether listening to disordered voices changed arousal as a result of emotional state or cognitive load. Recordings of the second sentence of the "Rainbow Passage" produced by talkers with varying degrees of AdSD served as speech stimuli. Twenty naïve young adult listeners perceptually evaluated these stimuli on the dimensions of vocal strain and listening effort using two separate visual analogue scales. While making the auditory-perceptual judgments, listeners' pupil characteristics were objectively measured in synchrony with the presentation of each voice stimulus. Data analyses revealed moderate-to-high inter- and intra-rater reliability. A significant positive correlation was found between the ratings of vocal strain and listening effort. In addition, listeners displayed greater peak pupil dilation (PPD) when listening to more strained and effortful voice samples. Findings from this study suggest that when combined with an auditory-perceptual task, non-volitional physiologic changes in pupil response may serve as an indicator of listening and cognitive effort or arousal.