6. X-ray cineradiography

        A major obstacle in studying speech movements is the difficulty of seeing and determining internal movements of the vocal organs. Using the sense of touch inside the mouth and intuition are not always accurate. In the past, x-ray cineradiography was used to film and study the vocal tract during speech. Here is a QuickTime video of a short English sentence:


     Some things to watch for: when and where the tip of the tongue touches the palate, the forward and backward movement of the tongue, the raising and lowering of the velum, and the lowering and raising of the jaw, or mandible.

     X-ray cineradiography is no longer done with normal subjects because of the danger of radiation exposure; various other methods are used now íV you've already encountered fMRI. However, a lot of the old x-ray films have been preserved. Kevin Munhall of Queen's University in Canada and his colleagues in Japan have collected and reformatted many of these films and made them available over YouTube:

Kevin Munhall Xray Database 1

Kevin Munhall Xray Database 2

Kevin Munhall Xray Database 3

Kevin Munhall Xray Database 4

     Detailed views of the tongue and vocal tract during speech are now possible without the danger of radiation exposure íV through Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Here is an article about an amazing new technology that enables researchers to synthesize still
MRI photos into videos of people speaking, as well as view other internal body processes:

UK Daily Mail Online: MRI scan shows what happens to body when people talk and sing
An incredible glimpse inside the body: MRI scans reveal a beating heart and what happens inside the mouth when we talk


       Next: Vocal folds and voicing

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