The Influence of Immersive Virtual Reality on Voice Perception and Production
Voice disorders are on the rise particularly among teachers, who have high vocal demands. Classroom teachers, in particular, are at a higher risk of voice disorders versus the general population In fact, according to a study published in the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, the prevalence of voice disorders among teachers is approximately twice as high as compared to non-teachers.
Professional and performance voice care is a primary focus of the Grabscheid Voice and Swallowing Center of Mount Sinai. This foundation of clinical care backed by research prompted further exploration into these findings about heightened voice disorders among professional voice users.
Rationale for Using VR in Clinical Practice of Laryngology
Investigators at the Grabscheid Voice and Swallowing Center, along with other collaborators in the United States, are simulating real-word classroom environments using immersive VR while being assessed in traditional clinical settings. Based on the specificity of learning principle, sensory feedback during practice should closely match to that of real life circumstances.
Researchers at the Grabscheid Voice and Swallowing Center are investigating whether VR technology can simulate sensory feedback among professional voice users in clinical settings. Recent research conducted by this team, indicated that VR can simulate real-world environments for vocally healthy individuals. Further, this research showed that not only auditory but also visual and audiovisual sensory input has significant impact on voice perception and production.
The goal of this “Influence of Virtual Reality on Voice Perception of Production” study is to determine if simulated classroom and other professional environments simulated via VR can improve therapeutic outcomes, specifically for professional voice users.
Investigating Professional Voice User Behaviors in the Clinical Setting with VR
Approximately 60 professional K-12 classroom teachers will be included in the “Influence of Virtual Reality on Voice Perception of Production” study. Participants will perform various speech tasks under predetermined VR simulated classrooms. These settings will vary in size, acoustics and number of digitally created students. Researchers will record participants’ voice under multiple circumstances for further acoustic analysis. Additionally, participants will complete PRO’s (patient reported outcomes) through several visual analogue scale ratings. Specifically, this self-reported voice perception questionnaire will examine three variables: vocal loudness, vocal effort and comfort.
VR and Voice Perception Study Criteria (enrolling patients in the fall/winter of 2023)
Mount Sinai investigators are currently enrolling professional teachers into the “Influence of Virtual Reality on Voice Perception of Production” study. Individuals seeking to participate in this study must:
- Be between ages 24 and 50
- Have at least two years of professional practice
- Not have been diagnosed voice disorders
- Be lifetime non-smokers
- Have healthy hearing and vision (or corrected vision)
For further information, please contact Umit Dasdogen, PhD, CF-SLP at Umit.Dasdogen@mountsinai.org.