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Proceedings Paper

How parrots talk: insights based on CT scans, image processing, and mathematical models
Author(s): Dianne K. Patterson; Irene M. Pepperberg; Brad H. Story; Eric A. Hoffman
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Paper Abstract

Little is known about mechanisms of speech production in parrots. Recently, however, techniques for correlating vocal tract shape with vowel production in humans have become more sophisticated and we have adapted these techniques for use with parrots. We scanned two grey parrot heads with intact vocal tracts. One specimen, 'Oldbird' was fixed with its beak propped open; the second 'Youngbird' was fixed with its beak closed. Using VIDA software, we (1) established that differences in tongue and larynx positioning resulted from opening or closing the beak; and (2) obtained lengths and area functions for the trachea, glottis, pharynx, mouth, and choana for both specimens and esophageal length and area functions for the first specimen. We entered lengths and area functions into a 1D wave propagation model to determine the natural formant frequencies associated with an open versus closed beak. We also determined how manipulating lengths and area functions could affect formant frequency and relative intensity. Finally, by comparing observed grey parrot vowel formant, we predict how the parrot uses its vocal tract to produce speech.

Paper Details

Date Published: 9 May 1997
PDF: 11 pages
Proc. SPIE 3033, Medical Imaging 1997: Physiology and Function from Multidimensional Images, (9 May 1997); doi: 10.1117/12.274039
Show Author Affiliations
Dianne K. Patterson, Univ. of Arizona (United States)
Irene M. Pepperberg, Univ. of Arizona (United States)
Brad H. Story, Univ. of Iowa (United States)
Eric A. Hoffman, Univ. of Iowa College of Medicine (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 3033:
Medical Imaging 1997: Physiology and Function from Multidimensional Images
Eric A. Hoffman, Editor(s)

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