The use of analogy in speech motor performance

Choi Yeung Andy TSE, Richard S. W. MASTERS, Tara L. WHITEHILL, Estella P.-M. MA

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The acoustic correlates of pitch variation were examined in 40 participants who received analogy instructions or explicit instructions that required them to modulate their intonation during speech production. First, using focus group methodology, professional speech-language pathologists were asked to identify analogies that best described minimum pitch variation (monotone), moderate pitch variation (normal intonation), and maximum pitch variation (exaggerated intonation) in speech. The focus group established that an appropriate pitch variation metaphor may be related to imagery of “waves at sea”, with minimum pitch variation represented by a flat calm sea, moderate pitch variation represented by a moderate sea, and maximum pitch variation represented by a choppy sea. Forty adult participants without speech impairments were asked to read aloud a standard paragraph using their habitual pitch variation (control condition). They were then allocated randomly to an analogy or an explicit instruction group and were asked to read aloud different paragraphs with minimum, moderate, or maximum pitch variations. Results revealed that acoustic correlates of pitch variation (standard deviation of fundamental frequency, SDF₀) were not different for the control condition, or moderate and maximum pitch variation conditions in the two groups. However, the analogy instruction was significantly more effective than the explicit instruction for inducing minimum pitch variation. Analysis of participants in each group who showed higher than normal pitch variation in the control condition (>.5 SD above the group SDF₀) revealed that the analogy instruction was more effective than the explicit instruction in the minimum variation condition. It was concluded that analogy instructions may be a useful tool in speech rehabilitation. Copyright © 2012 The Speech Pathology Association of Australia Limited.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)84-90
JournalInternational Journal of Speech-Language Pathology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012



Tse, A. C. Y., Masters, R. S. W., Whitehill, T. L., & Ma, E. P.-M. (2012). The use of analogy in speech motor performance. International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 14(1), 84-90. doi: 10.3109/17549507.2011.616600


  • Analogy instruction
  • Implicit motor learning
  • Speech production
  • Acoustic correlates of pitch variation
  • Acoustic analysis