Scottish researchers using 3D imaging to view tongues in speech study

A team of academic researchers in Scotland have developed a project in which ultrasound and MRI technologies are used to create 3D tongue and vocal tract videos, which can be shown at full and half speed to allow for study.

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A team of academic researchers in Scotland have developed a project in which 3D imaging is used to show how tongues move during speech in order to help teachers, scientists, health experts, and actors.

The Seeing Speech project—which is led by a team from the University of Glasgow—uses ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology to create 3D tongue and vocal tract videos which can be shown at full and half speed to allow for study, according to BBC News.

Medical ultrasound machines capture images of the surface of the tongue during speech and then an MRI machine is used to record the entire vocal tract including the action of the larynx and soft palate. Principal investigator and Glasgow University phonetics expert Professor Jane Stuart-Smith told BBC News that the project is the first of its kind to demonstrate how speech sounds are formed.

"The only resources that we had to work with up to this point were static diagrams and models that break the vocal tract up into sections and provide a fragmented view of what are really synchronized, dynamic actions of the vocal organs,” she said.

Seeing Speech also keeps a video database to show accent differences in speech production, which aims to help the study of accents and accent change. In addition, the researchers hope the project can be developed into a more substantial teaching and learning resource in the future.

View more information on the Seeing Speech project.

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