Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences

Committee Chair

Jessica E. Huber

Committee Member 1

Lisa Goffman

Committee Member 2

David Snow


The production of speech prosody (the rhythm, pausing, and intonation associated with natural speech) is critical to effective communication. The current study investigated the impact of age-related changes to physiology and cognition in relation to the production of two types of linguistic prosody: lexical stress and the disambiguation of syntactically ambiguous utterances. Analyses of the acoustic correlates of stress: speech intensity (or sound-pressure level; SPL), fundamental frequency (F0), key word/phrase duration, and pause duration revealed that both young and older adults effectively use these acoustic features to signal linguistic prosody, although the relative weighting of cues differed by group. Differences in F0 were attributed to age-related physiological changes in the laryngeal subsystem, while group differences in duration measures were attributed to relative task complexity and the cognitive-linguistic load of these respective tasks. The current study provides normative acoustic data for older adults which informs interpretation of clinical findings as well as research pertaining to dysprosody as the result of disease processes.