Wednesday, 26 June 2013

'Singing' Rats Show Hope for Older Humans With Age-Related Voice Problems

June 24, 2013 — A new study shows that the vocal training of older rats reduces some of the voice problems related to their aging, such as the loss of vocal intensity that accompanies changes in the muscles of the larynx. This is an animal model of a vocal pathology that many humans face as they age. The researchers hope that in the future, voice therapy in aging humans will help improve their quality of life.

The research appears in The Journals of Gerontology.

University of Illinois speech and hearing science professor Aaron Johnson, who led the new study along with his colleagues at the University of Wisconsin, said that aging can cause the muscles of the larynx, the organ that contains the vocal folds, to atrophy. This condition, called presbyphonia, may be treatable with vocal training, he said.

Johnson said in a healthy, young larynx the vocal folds completely close and open during vibration. This creates little puffs of air we hear as sound. In people with presbyphonia, however, the atrophied vocal folds do not close properly, resulting in a gap during vocal fold vibration.

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