Vocal tract area functions from magnetic resonance imaging

Brad H. Story, Ingo R. Titze, Eric A. Hoffman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

382 Scopus citations


There have been considerable research efforts in the area of vocal tract modeling but there is still a small body of information regarding direct 3-D measurements of the vocal tract shape. The purpose of this study was to acquire, using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), an inventory of speaker- specific, three-dimensional, vocal tract air space shapes that correspond to a particular set of vowels and consonants. A set of 18 shapes was obtained for one male subject who vocalized while being scanned for 12 vowels, 3 nasals, and 3 plosives. The 3-D shapes were analyzed to find the cross- sectional areas evaluated within planes always chosen to be perpendicular to the centerline extending from the glottis to the mouth to produce an 'area function.' This paper provides a speaker-specific catalogue of area functions for 18 vocal tract shapes. Comparisons of formant locations extracted from the natural (recorded) speech of the imaged subject and from simulations using the newly acquired area functions show reasonable similarity but suggest that the imaged vocal tract shapes may be somewhat centralized. Additionally, comparisons of the area functions reported in this study are compared with those from four previous studies and demonstrate general similarities in shape but also obvious differences that can be attributed to differences in imaging techniques, image processing methods, and anatomical differences of the imaged subjects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)537-554
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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