Registers in Infant Phonation


The primary vocal registers of modal, falsetto, and fry have been studied in adults but not per se in infancy. The vocal ligament is thought to play a critical role in the modal-falsetto contrast but is still developing during infancy (Tateya and Tateya, 2015). 41 Cover tissues are also implicated in the modal-fry contrast, but the low fundamental frequency (f o )cutoff of 70 Hz, shared between genders, suggests a psychoacoustic basis for the contrast. Buder, Chorna, Oller, and Robinson (2008) 6 used the labels of “loft,” “modal,” and “pulse” for distinct vibratory regimes that appear to be identifiable based on spectrographic inspection of harmonic structure and auditory judgments in infants, but this work did not supply acoustic measurements to verify which of these nominally labeled regimes resembled adult registers. In this report, we identify clear transitions between registers within infant vocalizations and measure these registers and their transitions for f o and relative harmonic amplitudes (H1-H2). By selectively sampling first-year vocalizations, this manuscript quantifies acoustic patterns that correspond to vocal fold vibration types not previously cataloged in infancy. Results support a developmental basis for vocal registers, revealing that a well-developed ligament is not needed for loft-modal quality shifts as seen in harmonic amplitude measures. Results also reveal that a distinctively pulsatile register can occur in infants at a much higher f o than expected on psychoacoustic grounds. Overall results are consistent with cover tissues in infancy that are, for vibratory purposes, highly compliant and readily detached.

Publication Title

Journal of Voice