Control of Vocal Loudness in Young and Old Adults

Kristin K. Baker, Lorraine Olson Ramig, Shimon Sapir, Erich S. Luschei, Marshall E. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examined the effect of aging on respiratory and laryngeal mechanisms involved in vocal loudness control. Simultaneous measures of subglottal pressure and electromyographic (EMG) activity from the thyroarytenoid (TA), lateral cricoarytenoid (LCA), and cricothyroid (CT) muscles were investigated in young and old individuals while they attempted to phonate at three loudness levels, "soft," "comfortable," and "loud." Voice sound pressure level (SPL) and fundamental frequency (F0) measures were also obtained. Across loudness conditions, subglottal pressure levels were similar for both age groups. Laryngeal EMG measures tended to be lower and more variable for old compared with young individuals. These differences were most apparent for the TA muscle. Finally, across the three loudness conditions, the old individuals generated SPLs that were lower overall than those produced by the young individuals but modulated loudness levels in a manner similar to that of the young subjects. These findings suggest that the laryngeal mechanism may be more affected than the respiratory system in these old individuals and that these changes may affect vocal loudness levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-305
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2001


  • Aging
  • Loudness
  • Physiology
  • Speech
  • Voice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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