Glossary


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A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

A

Abduction - Bringing the vocal folds apart to open the glottis for breathing. Term found in About the Voice: Anatomy 201.

Abductor Spasmodic Dysphonia - A less common form of Spasmodic Dysphonia that causes the posterior cricoarytenoid muscle (the muscle that draws the vocal folds apart) to contract suddenly, causing the vocal folds to pull apart suddenly. The result is a sudden "blowing out" or breathiness of the voice. Term found in Types of Voice Disorders: Spasmodic Dysphonia.

Acoustics - The study of sound. Term found in About the Voice: Acoustics 101.

Adam's Apple - The common term for the thyroid notch. Term found in About the Voice: Anatomy 201.

Adduction - The vocal folds coming together to close the glottis. Term found in About the Voice: Anatomy 201.

Adductor Spasmodic Dysphonia - The most common type of Spasmodic Dysphonia. The thyroarytenoid muscle (the muscle that lies within each vocal fold) contracts strongly and suddenly as in a muscle spasm. This causes the vocal folds to suddenly squeeze together very tightly, resulting in a sudden breaking, stopping, or strangling of the voice. Term found in Types of Voice Disorders: Spasmodic Dysphonia.

Amplitude - A measure of the strength of a vibration. Amplitude is measured in decibels. In sound, amplitude of vibration gives us the loudness of the sound. The greater the amplitude, the louder the sound we perceive. The perceptual correlate of amplitude is loudness, but there is not a direct correlation between amplitude and loudness. Term found in About the Voice: Acoustics 101.

Anterior-Posterior Constriction - A type of Muscle Tension Dysphonia in which the arytenoid cartilages bend forward during voice use, and/or the epiglottis bends backwards, causing the larynx to squeeze from front to back (anterior to posterior). In extreme cases, especially in children, the arytenoids may actually vibrate against the epiglottis. Term found in Types of Voice Disorders: Anterior-Posterior Constriction.

Arytenoid cartilages - Small cartilages that sit atop the back of the cricoid cartilage and hold the back end of the vocal folds. The arytenoid cartilages can rock, glide, and pivot, thus controlling the movement of the vocal folds. Term found in About the Voice: Anatomy 201.

B

Benign Essential Tremor - A disorder that causes shaking of the voice. This tremor is not associated with any other disease state, such as the tremor associated with Parkinson's Disease. Vocal fold vibration is normal, but the entire larynx shakes slightly, causing an extra vibration, or tremor, at about 5-7 cycles per second. Term found in Types of Voice Disorders: Benign Essential Tremor.

Botox - The nickname for Botulinum Toxin, which is a strain of botulism, a powerful poison. When a minute amount of Botox is injected into a muscle, it weakens the muscle contraction. Botox is often used for treatment of Benign Essential Tremor, Spasmodic Dysphonia, and infrequently Muscle Tension Dysphonia. Term found in Types of Voice Disorders: Spasmodic Dysphonia and Types of Voice Disorders: Benign Essential Tremor.

C

Complex vibration - A type of vibration in which there are many simultaneous frequencies, amplitudes, and phase differences. Term found in About the Voice: Acoustics 101.

Contact ulcer - A sore on the mucosal tissue of the posterior part of the larynx, usually on the arytenoid cartilage or very posterior portion of the vocal fold. It appears similar to a canker sore in the mouth and can be quite painful. Term found in Types of Voice Disorders: Contact Ulcers.

Conversion Dysphonia/Aphonia - A disorder that exists when there is psychological trauma that is manifested physically. There may be a single traumatic event such as an accident, death, or psychologically damaging event, and there is change of voice within a short time. A long term psychologically damaging circumstance, such as sexual abuse, may also physically manifest itself soon or many years later. In most cases this voice disorder will not resolve unless there is psychotherapy involved. Term found in Types of Voice Disorders: Conversion Dysphonia/Aphonia.

Cricoid Cartilage - The top ring of the trachea, shaped like a signet ring, wider in the back than the front. Term found in About the Voice: Anatomy 201.

Cricothyroid - Laryngeal muscles that lengthen the vocal folds. They pull the thyroid cartilage down and forward on its hinge, which increases the distance between the arytenoids and the thyroid notch, thereby lengthening and tightening the vocal folds; this causes them to vibrate faster, thus raising pitch. Term found in About the Voice: Anatomy 201.

Cyst - A growth that forms beneath the surface layer of the vocal fold mucosa. It causes a gap between the two vocal folds and prevents normal vibration. Term found in Types of Voice Disorders: Cysts.

D

dB - The abbreviation for "decibels". Term found in About the Voice: Acoustics 101.

Decibel - A unit used of measure for vibration amplitude. Term found in About the Voice: Acoustics 101.

Diaphragm - A dome-shaped muscle positioned underneath the lungs, inside the rib cage. The diaphragm is the main muscle for controlling respiration (breathing). Term found in About the Voice: Anatomy 101.

Dysphonia - Dysphonia is poor voice quality; dys- means bad, and phon- means sound. The term dysphonia can also mean the vocal sound is acceptable but the person has discomfort while phonating. Term found in About the Voice: Anatomy 201.

E

Epiglottis - A soft cartilage that serves as part of the protective swallowing mechanism. It folds backward over the glottis during a swallow so that food and water do not go into the lungs. Term found in About the Voice: Anatomy 201.

Esophagus - Commonly called the "food pipe", it carries food/water from the pharynx to the stomach. Term found in About the Voice: Anatomy 101.

Extrinsic Laryngeal Muscles - The muscles of the front of the neck and jaw that surround the larynx. The muscles of the front of the neck are also referred to as the "strap" muscles. Term found in About the Voice: Anatomy 201.

F

Frequency - In acoustics, the number of times per second a vibration occurs, measured in Hertz. Frequency measures the speed of vibration. In sound, frequency of vibration gives us the pitch of the sound. The faster the vibration, the higher the pitch that we perceive. The perceptual correlate of frequency is pitch. Term found in About the Voice: Acoustics 101.

Functional voice disorder - A voice disorder in which the physical structure of the vocal folds is normal, but the vocal mechanism is being used improperly or inefficiently. Term found in Types of Voice Disorders.

Functional voice therapy - A process also known as voice therapy. Much like physical therapy, progressive exercises are taught over a series of sessions. It includes education about use, care of the voice, and how the voice works.Varies in length from several sessions to many sessions over several months. Should be done with a certified speech language pathologist with special expertise in voice disorders. Often done in conjunction with other kinds of treatments. Term found in Treatment of Voice Disorders: Functional Voice Therapy.

G

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disorder (GERD) - A disorder in which acid from the stomach refluxes back up through the esophagus. Term found in Related Problems: GERD.

Glottic cycle - A cycle in which the vocal folds alternately trap and release air; each trap/release is one cycle of vibration. Term found in About the Voice: Physiology 202.

Glottis - The space between the two vocal folds. The glottis opens and closes during vibration. Term found in About the Voice: Anatomy 201.

Granuloma - A benign growth that typically occurs in the posterior (back) part of the larynx, either directly on the vocal fold, or on one of the mucosal surfaces nearby. The growth may prevent glottic closure, causing vibration to be weak or non-existent. This could cause a weak or breathy voice, or frequent "breaks" in the voice. The lesion may also interfere with vibration, causing a rough, irregular sound. The voice may fatigue easily and become worse sounding with continued use. A lesion that is not directly on the vocal fold may not interfere with voice quality, but can be very irritating and even painful. A large enough lesion may obstruct the airway. Term found in Types of Voice Disorders: Granuloma.

H

Hemorrhage - This occurs when a tiny blood vessel within the vocal fold bursts, creating a bleed into the mucosal covering. The accumulation of blood under the surface of the vocal fold makes the fold stiff, which makes vibration more difficult. The amount of the bleed can vary greatly, and so can the effect on the voice, but often it is large enough to prevent vibration of the affected vocal fold altogether. Term found in Types of Voice Disorders: Hemorrhage.

Hertz - A measure of frequency, in cycles per second. Term found in About the Voice: Acoustics 101.

Hyoid Bone - A horseshoe-shaped bone positioned slightly above the thyroid cartilage. The hyoid bone provides the attachment for many of the muscles of the tongue, jaw, and neck. It is the only bone in the body not connected to any other bone. Term found in About the Voice: Anatomy 201.

Hyperabduction - A pattern of Muscle Tension Dysphonia in which the vocal folds do not come together to produce voice. They may appear to be pulled apart as the person phonates. Term found in Types of Voice Disorders: Hyperabduction.

Hyperadduction - A pattern of Muscle Tension Dysphonia in which the vocal folds adduct (come together) very tightly, producing a valve that restricts airflow. The larynx may look normal on exam, but the sound and sensation are not. Term found in Types of Voice Disorders: Hyperadduction.

Hz - The abbreviation for "Hertz". Term found in About the Voice: Acoustics 101.

I

Innervation - A process in which nerves come from the brain to the brain stem or to the spinal cord, and then go out to muscles and tissues of the body. Signals from the nerves activate the muscles and control their movement. The nerves also carry information about sensations in the muscles and tissues back to the brain. Term found in About the Voice; Anatomy 301.

Interarytenoids - Laryngeal muscles that bring the two arytenoid cartilages together to provide medial compression for the vocal folds. The vocal folds squeeze together tighter to resist the air pressure from the lungs. There are 2 sets of these: the transverse arytenoids and the oblique arytenoids. Term found in About the Voice: Anatomy 201.

Intrinsic Laryngeal Muscles - Muscles within the larynx itself. Term found in About the Voice: Anatomy 201.

J

Juvenile Voice - Another term for Puberphonia. Term found in Types of Voice Disorders: Juvenile Voice/Mutational Falsetto/Puberphonia.

K

L

Laryngeal - Having to do with the larynx. Term found in About the Voice: Anatomy 201.

Laryngeal Dyskinesia - Another term for Paradoxical Vocal Fold Motion (PVFM). Term found in Related Problems: Paradoxical Vocal Fold Motion (PVFM).

Laryngeal Dystonia - Another term for Spasmodic Dysphonia. Term found in Types of Voice Disorders: Spasmodic Dysphonia.

Laryngospasm - Another term for Paradoxical Vocal Fold Motion (PVFM). Term found in Related Problems: Paradoxical Vocal Fold Motion (PVFM).

Larynx - The voice box. The vocal folds, which are part of the larynx, vibrate to create the sound of the voice. Term found in About the Voice: Anatomy 101.

Lateral cricoarytenoid - Adductor laryngeal muscles. They close the glottis by pulling the back end of the arytenoid cartilages apart. This pulls the front ends together, making the the vocal folds come together. Term found in About the Voice: Anatomy 201.

M

Mucosa - The kind of tissue that lines the entire inside of the mouth, throat, etc. It is soft and wet, and should always be covered by a layer of secretions (saliva). In most phonation, it is the mucosa that vibrates, not the entire vocal fold. Term found in About the Voice: Anatomy 201.

Muscle Tension Dysphonia - One of the most common voice disorders. The term dysphonia means there is something wrong with the voice, but muscle tension dysphonia can also refer to a voice that sounds normal but causes pain, discomfort, or fatigue to the voice user. MTD is known as a functional disorder; that is, there is nothing structurally wrong with the voice. Rather, the muscles do not function properly, which causes poor sound, discomfort, or a sensation of increased effort. Term found in Types of Voice Disorders: Muscle Tension Dysphonia.

N

Nodes - Another name for nodules. Term found in Types of Voice Disorders: Nodules.

Nodules - Blister-like or callous-like swellings that form just below the epithelial surface of the vocal folds. They occur on both vocal folds and are symmetrical. The nodules appear as small bumps along the mid portion of the vocal folds, where the vocal folds come into contact with each other. Nodules may create a gap between the two vocal folds allowing air to escape and prevent normal vibration. They may also stiffen the mucosal tissue, causing irregular vibration and a rougher sound. Term found in Types of Voice Disorders: Nodules.

O

Organic voice disorders - These fall into two groups: structural and neurogenic. Structural disorders involve something physically wrong with the mechanism, often involving tissue or fluids of the vocal folds. Neurogenic disorders are caused by a problem in the nervous system. Term found in Types of Voice Disorders.

Oropharynx - The portion of the pharynx (also called the throat) going into the mouth. Found in About the Voice: Anatomy 101.

P

Paralysis - Also called "Vocal Fold Paralysis". A voice disorder in which one or both vocal folds do not move, often causing a gap between the two vocal folds, which allows air to leak through and disrupts vibration. If nerve damage is permanent and there is no movement at all to the vocal fold, it is considered a paralysis and not a paresis. Term found in Types of Voice Disorders.

Paresis - Also called "Vocal Fold Paresis". A voice disorder in which one or both vocal folds do not move, often causing a gap between the two vocal folds, which allows air to leak through and disrupts vibration. If there is some movement but movement is reduced, it is called a paresis, which means "weakness," instead of a paralysis. Term found in Types of Voice Disorders.

Pharyngeal Constriction - A form of muscle tension dysphonia in which muscles of the pharynx (throat) contract excessively while talking, leaving the throat very constricted.

Pharynx - The throat. The pharynx goes up from the larynx and divides into the oropharynx (going into the mouth) and nasopharynx (going into the nose). Term found in About the Voice: Anatomy 101.

Phonation - The process of making noise with the larynx or producing vocal sound; phon- is a root word meaning sound. Term found in About the Voice: Anatomy 201.

Polyp - Growths arising from the vocal fold mucosa. They may be solid or fluid filled, and can become quite large. Polyps tend to associated with sudden, acute trauma, except for smokers polyps, which are a reaction of the vocal fold mucosa to the chronic insult of smoking. Term found in Types of Voice Disorders.

Posterior cricoarytenoid - The only laryngeal muscles involved in abduction. They open the glottis by pulling the back ends of the arytenoid cartilages together. This pulls the front ends (where the vocal folds attach) apart, therefore pulling the vocal folds apart. Term found in About the Voice: Anatomy 201.

Puberphonia - Also called Juvenile Voice/Mutational Falsetto. This exists when there is some psychological reason for an individual to resist the maturing and lowering pitch of the adult voice, and maintains the higher pitch of a preadolescent. It is also possible that the post-pubertal voice does not develop because of a physical problem with the voice at the time of the pubertal voice change, in which case, the disorder is not considered psychogenic. Term found in Types of Voice Disorders: Juvenile Voice/Mutational Falsetto/Puberphonia.

Q

R

Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve - One of two nerves that innervate the larynx, along with the superior laryngeal nerve. The recurrent laryngeal nerve is the more important of the two nerves, and the one most likely to be damaged. The recurrent laryngeal nerve comes out of the brain stem and descends all the way down to wrap around the aorta (the main artery leading out of the heart) on the left side. It then comes back up and attaches to the larynx. Term found in About the Voice: Anatomy 301.

Reflux - Short for GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disorder). Term found in Related Problems: GERD.

S

Spasmodic Dysphonia - The common name for laryngeal dystonia. Dystonia is a neurologic movement disorder, caused by a problem in the nervous system. The vocal folds vibrate normally, but they spasm intermittently during speech. There are three different types of spasmodic dysphonia (SD): abductor SD, adductor SD, and mixed abductor and adductor SD. Term found in Types of Voice Disorders: Spasmodic Dysphonia.

Spinal column - The vertebral column that lies behind the esophagus. Term found in About the Voice: Anatomy 101.

Structural voice disorder - A type of voice disorder involving something physically wrong with the mechanism, often involving tissue or fluids of the vocal folds. Term found in Types of Voice Disorders.

Superior Laryngeal Nerve - One of two nerves that innervates the larynx, along with the recurrent laryngeal nerve. Term found in About the Voice: Anatomy 301.

T

Thyroarytenoid - The muscles that form the body of the vocal folds. They shorten the vocal folds by pulling the arytenoid (back) end of the vocal folds toward the thyroid (front) end. This shortens the vocal folds and bunches them up, which causes them to vibrate more slowly, thus lowering pitch. The thyroarytenoid muscles also have a force to strengthen glottic closure. That is, they help bring the vocal folds together and keep them together to resist the airstream from the lungs. Term found in About the Voice: Anatomy 201.

Trachea - The windpipe. It is the tube that connects your lungs to your throat. The larynx sits on the top of the trachea. Term found in About the Voice: Anatomy 101.

Tremor - Another name for Benign Essential Tremor.  A disorder that causes shaking of the voice. The entire larynx shakes slightly, causing an extra vibration, or tremor, at about 5-7 cycles per second. Term found in Types of Voice Disorders.

 

U

V

Valsalva Maneuver - Trapping air inside the lungs in order to provide air pressure, against which you push for excretion and childbirth, or stabilization for lifting. This is also called "thoracic fixation". Term found in About the Voice: Anatomy 201.

Ventricular Phonation - Also called plica ventricularis, ventricular dysphonia, or false cord phonation.
A Muscle tension pattern in which the ventricular folds come together and vibrate instead of, or along with, the vocal folds. Term found in Types of Voice Disorders.

Vocal Cord Dysfunction - Another term for Paradoxical Vocal Fold Motion (PVFM). Term found in Related Problems: PVFM.

Vocal Cords - Another name for vocal folds. Please see our explanation on this terminology in About the Voice.

Vocal Folds - Structures that provide a valve for the airway and also vibrate to produce the voice. The vocal folds are multilayered, consisting of a muscle covered by mucosa. They are also called "vocal cords". Term found in About the Voice: Anatomy 201.

Vocal Fold Bowing - Vocal folds don't come together to vibrate. Instead, they leave a gap, allowing air to leak through. Term found in Types of Voice Disorders.

Vocal Tract - The passage for the sound wave beginning at the glottis and ending at the lips. Term found in About the Voice: Anatomy 201.

W

Waveform - A picture of vibration as it proceeds through time. Term found in About the Voice: Acoustics 101.

Wavelength - The distance a sound compression travels before the next compression starts. Term found in About the Voice: Acoustics 101.

X

Y

Z

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Deirdre D. Michael - micha008@umn.edu
Date Last Modified: 1/12/12