Improved imaging of lingual articulation using real-time multislice MRI

Yoon Chul Kim*, Michael I. Proctor, Shrikanth S. Narayanan, Krishna S. Nayak

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: To develop a real-time imaging technique that allows for simultaneous visualization of vocal tract shaping in multiple scan planes, and provides dynamic visualization of complex articulatory features. Materials and Methods: Simultaneous imaging of multiple slices was implemented using a custom real-time imaging platform. Midsagittal, coronal, and axial scan planes of the human upper airway were prescribed and imaged in real-time using a fast spiral gradient-echo pulse sequence. Two native speakers of English produced voiceless and voiced fricatives /f/-/v/, /θ/-/O/, /s/-/z/, /χ/-/ζ/ in symmetrical maximally contrastive vocalic contexts /a-a/, /i-i/, and /u-u/. Vocal tract videos were synchronized with noise-cancelled audio recordings, facilitating the selection of frames associated with production of English fricatives. Results: Coronal slices intersecting the postalveolar region of the vocal tract revealed tongue grooving to be most pronounced during fricative production in back vowel contexts, and more pronounced for sibilants /s/-/z/ than for /χ/-/ζ/. The axial slice best revealed differences in dorsal and pharyngeal articulation; voiced fricatives were observed to be produced with a larger cross-sectional area in the pharyngeal airway. Partial saturation of spins provided accurate location of imaging planes with respect to each other. Conclusion: Real-time MRI of multiple intersecting slices can provide valuable spatial and temporal information about vocal tract shaping, including details not observable from a single slice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)943-948
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012
Externally publishedYes


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