Modeling tongue surface contours from cine-MRI images

M. Stone, E. P. Davis, A. S. Douglas, M. N. Aiver, R. Gullapalli, W. S. Levine, A. J. Lundberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study demonstrated that a simple mechanical model of global tongue movement in parallel sagittal planes could be used to quantify tongue motion during speech. The goal was to represent simply the differences in 2D tongue surface shapes and positions during speech movements and in subphonemic speech events such as coarticulation and left-to-right asymmetries. The study used tagged Magnetic Resonance Images to capture motion of the tongue during speech. Measurements were made in three sagittal planes (left, midline, right) during movement from consonants (/k/, /s/) to vowels (/i/, /a/, /u/). MR image-sequences were collected during the C-to-V movement. The image-sequence had seven time-phases (frames), each 56 ms in duration. A global model was used to represent the surface motion. The motions were decomposed into translation, rotation, homogeneous stretch, and in-plane shear. The largest C-to-V shape deformation was from /k/ to/a/. It was composed primarily of vertical compression, horizontal expansion, and downward translation. Coarticulatory effects included a trade-off in which tongue shape accommodation was used to reduce the distance traveled between the C and V. Left-to-right motion asymmetries may have increased rate of motion by reducing the amount of mass to be moved.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1026-1040
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Cine-MRI
  • Speech mechanics
  • Speech production
  • Tongue deformation
  • Tongue model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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