British Prime Minister, Disraeli observed: “There is no greater index of character so sure as the voice”. Now new research suggests that how we speak could divulge even more about us than how sincere or confident we are. Parkinson’s disease gradually degenerates cells of the central nervous system affecting a wide range of body functions. Yet it can be difficult to diagnose. A voice disorder may be one of the earliest signs as the disease strikes the vocal cords (healthy ones pictured; paired whitish strips centre). Effects on speech include reduced loudness, increased vocal tremor, and breathiness. By applying computer algorithms to analyse voice recordings, researchers have identified sound patterns that look promising for distinguishing patients with early Parkinson’s. To increase the power of their analysis, the team wants to hear more voices with and without the disease. By phoning-in anonymously to say “aaaah”, everyone can participate in biomedical research.
Written by Lindsey Goff
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.