An understanding of the effects of advancing age on speech characteristics is crucial for those who study and serve the older population. The purpose of this study was to obtain a normative data base for the speech production characteristics of a group of very old men. Fourteen veterans 87 to 93 years old served as subjects, producing a total of 40 sentences at a conversational rat. Wide-band (300 Hz) spectrograms were created from high-quality tape recordings. Specified acoustic measures were made (consonant, vowel, and voice-onset time durations; and vowel formant frequencies and trajectory slopes) via digitizer and microcomputer Sonogram Analyzer program. Descriptive analysis of the selected measurements was performed to obtain a profile of speech production behavior for these subjects. Data were also compared to those of the young adult, Parkinson's disease patients, and younger elderly subjects studied by Weismer (1984a) and Weismer, Kimelman, and Gorman (1985). Performance of the older subjects was similar to that of the younger elderly in many cases, but in certain cases bore notable similarities to Parkinsonian speech. Theoretical implications of aging and disease are addressed.
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