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The perceptual structure of pathologic voice quality.


Although perceptual assessment is included in most protocols for evaluating pathologic voices, a standard set of valid scales for measuring voice quality has never been established. Standardization is important for theory and for clinical acceptance, and also because validation of objective measures of voice depends on valid perceptual measures. The present study used large sets (n = 80) of male and female voices, representing a broad range of diagnoses and vocal severities. Eight experts judged the dissimilarity of each pair of voices, and responses were analyzed using nonmetric individual differences multidimensional scaling. Results indicate that differences between listeners in perceptual strategy are so great that the fundamental assumption of a common perceptual space must be questioned. Because standardization depends on the assumption that listeners are similar, it is concluded that efforts to standardize perceptual labels for voice quality are unlikely to succeed. However, analysis by synthesis may provide an alternate means of modeling quality as a function of both voices and listeners, thus avoiding this problem.

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