A case study of vocal features associated with galvanic skin response to stressors in a clinical interaction

Marie Nilsenova, Erik Holt, Lena Heyn, Kim Groeneveld, Arnstein Finset

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    7 Citations (Scopus)


    We investigated vocal characteristics associated with physiologically determined stressful episodes by means of post-hoc acoustic analyses of speech recorded in a clinical setting. Our research addressed the understudied question of which vocal features may serve as cues naturally occurring stress and is the first to explore this issue in a pitch accent language.

    The vocal profile of a single female patient interacting with a physician was analyzed with standard speech analysis software for acoustic indicators of stress-related arousal determined by galvanic skin response measurements.

    Vocal jitter, representing an aspect of voice quality perceived as hoarseness, appeared to increase during and immediately after skin conductance response intervals. Skin conductance levels during the response intervals were negatively correlated with acoustic features used to approximate the perception of voice unsteadiness (slope and standard deviation of fundamental frequency).

    An acoustic analysis of vocal properties of speech uttered during independently detected skin conductance response intervals revealed individual patterns for some acoustic features linked to stress in earlier studies.

    Practice implications
    Non-invasive methods of arousal detection in physician-patient communication based on acoustic analyses of vocal profiles may, in combination with other analyses, help identify stressful events and thus improve the process of medical information gathering and decision-making.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalPatient Education and Counseling
    Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2016


    • Medical communication; Psychophysiology; Voice; Stress


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