There's a lot more that goes into producing human vocalizations than just the dual flaps of your larynx and a gust of air. More than 100 muscles throughout your face and neck coordinate to create the wide range of complex sounds people make. And thanks to a new MRI technique, researchers can watch that muscular symphony at work in real time. As you can see from the video below, the results are simply jaw dropping.
The new technique, developed Professor Aaron Johnson of the University of Illinois and his team from the Bioimaging Science and Technology Group at the Beckman Institute, records at 100 frame per second. That's ten times faster than what conventional MRI rigs can achieve. And unlike the similar video that British musician Sivu created last year (which required three hours of filming and countless more in post production), Johnson's method can be streamed live without any editing.
"The technique excels at high spatial and temporal resolution of speech -- it's both very detailed and very fast. Often you can have only of one these in MR imaging," Brad Sutton, technical director of the Institute's Biomedical Imaging Center, told CNET. "We have designed a specialised acquisition method that gathers the necessary data for both space and time in two parts and then combines them." The team's research was recently published in the journal, Magnetic Resonance in Medicine. They hope to utilize this imaging methodology to investigate whether active training can reverse age-related vocal atrophy and improve the function of the larynx in older adults.
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