Houri K Vorperian

Houri K Vorperian, PhD

PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Senior Scientist, Waisman Center 

Contact Information:

Waisman Center
1500 Highland Avenue
Room 427
Madison, WI 53705
Lab Website: Vocal Tract Development Lab

Research Statement

The oral and pharyngeal cavities making up the vocal tractundergo changes in size, shape, and relative proportions during the growth process from infancy through early childhood and adolescence.Such anatomic changes in the vocal tract are related to changes in speech acoustics. My research interest is to understand the relation between developmental changes in the vocal tract to changes in speech acoustics. This has not been adequately investigated due to the scarcity of quantitative information on the anatomic remodeling of the vocal tract during development. Thus, a primary objective of the Vocal Tract Development Lab is to quantitatively characterize the anatomic restructuring of the vocal tract, and to model its growth in typically developing individuals and in individuals with documented speech disorders partially due to structural differences secondary to chromosomal aberration, namely Trisomy 21 or Down Syndrome (DS). This goal is being addressed by examining imaging studies (MRI - Magnetic Resonance Imaging & CT - Computerized Tomography studies) that span the entire developmental period (birth to maturity), and securing a large set of predefined linear and volumetric measurements.

Specific issues being examined include: a) the growth rate of the different vocal tract structures; b) the relative rates of growth of the bony and soft tissue vocal tract structures; c) the coordinated growth of the different vocal tract structures, specifically functionally related structures; d) growth spurts, and synchrony in growth spurts; e) the ideal index to document and predict the growth of the vocal tract structures; f) gender related differences in the growth of the vocal tract structures; g) comparison of growth patterns pre versus post adolescence; h) anatomic growth similarities and differences in normal children and children with Trisomy 21. The findings of this study will contribute to knowledge on craniofacial development, and are of theoretical and clinical significance particularly in the areas of feeding skills, speech development, and speech production.

For additional information, please visit the Vocal Tract Development Laboratory website.

This research is supported by a grants from the National Institute of Health - National Institute of Deafness and Other Communicative Disorders (NIH/NIDCD Grant # R03-DC 4362 & R01-DC 006282). Also, a core grant to the Waisman Center from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NIH-NICHD Grant # P30-HD03352).

Representative Publications

Fisher E, Austin D, Werner HM, Chuang YJ, Bersu E, Vorperian HK. (2016) Hyoid bone fusion and bone density across the lifespan: prediction of age and sex. Forensic Science, Medicine, and Pathology. 12(2):146-57. doi: 10.1007/s12024-016-9769-x.

Cotter MM, Whyms BJ, Kelly MP, Doherty BM, Gentry LR, Bersu ET, Vorperian HK. (2015) Hyoid bone development: An assessment of optimal CT scanner parameters and 3D volume rendering techniques. Anatomical record. In Press.

Chung MK, Qiu A, Seo S, Vorperian HK. (2015) Unified heat kernel regression for diffusion, kernel smoothing and wavelets on manifolds and its application to mandible growth modeling in CT images. Medical Image Analysis. 22(1):63-76. doi: 10.1016/j.media.2015.02.003.

Hosseinbor AP, Kim WH, Adluru N, Acharya A, Vorperian HK, Chung MK. (2014) The 4D hyperspherical diffusion wavelet: A new method for the detection of localized anatomical variation. Medical Image Computing and Computer-Assisted Intervention. 17(Pt 3):65-72.

Burris C, Vorperian HK, Fourakis M, Kent RD, Bolt DM. (2014) Quantitative and descriptive comparison of four acoustic analysis systems: vowel measurements. Journal of Speech Language and Hearing Research. 57(1):26-45.

Kent RD, Vorperian HK. (2013) Speech impairment in Down syndrome: a review. Journal of Speech Language and Hearing Research. 56(1):178-210.

Whyms BJ, Vorperian HK, Gentry LR, Schimek EM, Bersu ET, Chung MK. (2013) The effect of computed tomographic scanner parameters and 3-dimensional volume rendering techniques on the accuracy of linear, angular, and volumetric measurements of the mandible. Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology, Oral Radiology. 115(5):682-91.

Wang Y, Chung MK, Vorperian HK. (2013) Composite growth model applied to human oral and pharyngeal structures and identifying the contribution of growth types. Statistical Methods in Medical Research. In Press.

Vorperian HK, Wang S, Schimek EM, Durtschi RB, Kent RD, Gentry LR, Chung MK. (2011) Developmental sexual dimorphism of the oral and pharyngeal portions of the vocal tract: an imaging study. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research. Aug;54(4):995-1010.

Milenkovic PH, Yaddanapudi S, Vorperian HK, Kent RD. (2010) Effects of a curved vocal tract with grid-generated tongue profile on low-order formants. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. Feb;127(2):1002-13.

Vorperian HK, Wang S, Chung MK, Schimek EM, Durtschi RB, Kent RD, Ziegert AJ, Gentry LR. (2009) Anatomic development of the oral and pharyngeal portions of the vocal tract: an imaging study. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. Mar;125(3):1666-78.

Durtschi RB, Chung D, Gentry LR, Chung MK, Vorperian HK. (2009) Developmental craniofacial anthropometry: Assessment of race effects. Clinical Anatomy. Oct;22(7):800-8.

Chung D, Chung MK, Durtschi RB, Gentry LR, Vorperian HK. (2008) Measurement consistency from magnetic resonance images. Academic Radiology. Oct;15(10):1322-30.