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Computational and Mathematical Methods in Medicine
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 297860, 15 pages
Research Article

Estimation of Phoneme-Specific HMM Topologies for the Automatic Recognition of Dysarthric Speech

Technological University of the Mixteca, Road to Acatlima K.m. 2.5, Huajuapan de León, 69000 Oaxaca, OAX, Mexico

Received 31 May 2013; Revised 16 August 2013; Accepted 25 August 2013

Academic Editor: Volkhard Helms

Copyright © 2013 Santiago-Omar Caballero-Morales. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Dysarthria is a frequently occurring motor speech disorder which can be caused by neurological trauma, cerebral palsy, or degenerative neurological diseases. Because dysarthria affects phonation, articulation, and prosody, spoken communication of dysarthric speakers gets seriously restricted, affecting their quality of life and confidence. Assistive technology has led to the development of speech applications to improve the spoken communication of dysarthric speakers. In this field, this paper presents an approach to improve the accuracy of HMM-based speech recognition systems. Because phonatory dysfunction is a main characteristic of dysarthric speech, the phonemes of a dysarthric speaker are affected at different levels. Thus, the approach consists in finding the most suitable type of HMM topology (Bakis, Ergodic) for each phoneme in the speaker’s phonetic repertoire. The topology is further refined with a suitable number of states and Gaussian mixture components for acoustic modelling. This represents a difference when compared with studies where a single topology is assumed for all phonemes. Finding the suitable parameters (topology and mixtures components) is performed with a Genetic Algorithm (GA). Experiments with a well-known dysarthric speech database showed statistically significant improvements of the proposed approach when compared with the single topology approach, even for speakers with severe dysarthria.