Computational prosodic markers for autism

Jan P.H. Van Santen, Emily T. Prud'Hommeaux, Lois M. Black, Margaret Mitchell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


We present results obtained with new instrumental methods for the acoustic analysis of prosody to evaluate prosody production by children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Typical Development (TD). Two tasks elicit focal stress ĝ€" one in a vocal imitation paradigm, the other in a picture-description paradigm; a third task also uses a vocal imitation paradigm, and requires repeating stress patterns of two-syllable nonsense words. The instrumental methods differentiated significantly between the ASD and TD groups in all but the focal stress imitation task. The methods also showed smaller differences in the two vocal imitation tasks than in the picture-description task, as was predicted. In fact, in the nonsense word stress repetition task, the instrumental methods showed better performance for the ASD group. The methods also revealed that the acoustic features that predict auditory-perceptual judgment are not the same as those that differentiate between groups. Specifically, a key difference between the groups appears to be a difference in the balance between the various prosodic cues, such as pitch, amplitude, and duration, and not necessarily a difference in the strength or clarity with which prosodic contrasts are expressed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-236
Number of pages22
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • acoustic
  • autism
  • computational
  • prosody
  • speech

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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