Effects of Alcohol on the Acoustic‐Phonetic Properties of Speech: Perceptual and Acoustic Analyses

David B. Pisoni, Christopher S. Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

40 Scopus citations


This report summarizes the results of a series of studies that examined the effects of alcohol on the acoustic-phonetic properties of speech. Audio recordings were made of male talkers producing lists of sentences under a sober condition and an intoxicated condition. These speech samples were then subjected to perceptual and acoustic analyses. In one perceptual experiment, listeners heard matched pairs of sentences from four talkers and were required to identify the sentence that was produced while the talker was intoxicated. In a second perceptual experiment, Indiana State Troopers and college undergraduates were required to judge whether individual sentences presented in isolation were produced in a sober or an intoxicated condition. The results of the perceptual experiments indicated that groups of listeners can significantly discriminate between speech samples produced under sober and intoxicated conditions. For acoustic analyses, digital signal processing techniques were used to measure acoustic-phonetic changes that took place in speech production when the talker was intoxicated. The results of the acoustical analyses revealed consistent and well-defined changes in speech articulation between sober and intoxicated conditions. Because speech production requires fine motor control and timing of the articulators, it may be possible to use acoustic-phonetic measures as sensitive indices of sensory-motor impairment due to alcohol consumption.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)577-587
Number of pages11
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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