The aprosody of schizophrenia: Computationally derived acoustic phonetic underpinnings of monotone speech

Michael T. Compton, Anya Lunden, Sean D. Cleary, Luca Pauselli, Yazeed Alolayan, Brooke Halpern, Beth Broussard, Anthony Crisafio, Leslie Capulong, Pierfrancesco Maria Balducci, Francesco Bernardini, Michael A. Covington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Objective: Acoustic phonetic methods are useful in examining some symptoms of schizophrenia; we used such methods to understand the underpinnings of aprosody. We hypothesized that, compared to controls and patients without clinically rated aprosody, patients with aprosody would exhibit reduced variability in: pitch (F0), jaw/mouth opening and tongue height (formant F1), tongue front/back position and/or lip rounding (formant F2), and intensity/loudness. Methods: Audiorecorded speech was obtained from 98 patients (including 25 with clinically rated aprosody and 29 without) and 102 unaffected controls using five tasks: one describing a drawing, two based on spontaneous speech elicited through a question (Tasks 2 and 3), and two based on reading prose excerpts (Tasks 4 and 5). We compared groups on variation in pitch (F0), formant F1 and F2, and intensity/loudness. Results: Regarding pitch variation, patients with aprosody differed significantly from controls in Task 5 in both unadjusted tests and those adjusted for sociodemographics. For the standard deviation (SD) of F1, no significant differences were found in adjusted tests. Regarding SD of F2, patients with aprosody had lower values than controls in Task 3, 4, and 5. For variation in intensity/loudness, patients with aprosody had lower values than patients without aprosody and controls across the five tasks. Conclusions: Findings could represent a step toward developing new methods for measuring and tracking the severity of this specific negative symptom using acoustic phonetic parameters; such work is relevant to other psychiatric and neurological disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)392-399
Number of pages8
JournalSchizophrenia Research
StatePublished - Jul 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Acoustic resonance
  • Aprosody
  • Linguistics
  • Negative symptoms
  • Phonetics
  • Phonology
  • Psychosis
  • Schizophrenia


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