Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders


Date of this Version



Behavior Research Methods 44:4 (December 2012), pp. 1121–1128; doi: 10.3758/s13428-012-0194-0 ; PMCID: PMC3394888


Copyright © 2012 Psychonomic Society, Inc.; published by Springer Verlag. Used by permission.


The present study investigates the accuracy of perceptually and acoustically determined inspiratory loci in spontaneous speech for the purpose of identifying breath groups. Sixteen participants were asked to talk about simple topics in daily life at a comfortable speaking rate and loudness while connected to a pneumotach and audio microphone. The locations of inspiratory loci were determined on the basis of the aerodynamic signal, which served as a reference for loci identified perceptually and acoustically. Signal detection theory was used to evaluate the accuracy of the methods. The results showed that the greatest accuracy in pause detection was achieved (1) perceptually, on the basis of agreement between at least two of three judges, and (2) acoustically, using a pause duration threshold of 300 ms. In general, the perceptually based method was more accurate than was the acoustically based method. Inconsistencies among perceptually determined, acoustically determined, and aerodynamically determined inspiratory loci for spontaneous speech should be weighed in selecting a method of breath group determination.