Journal of Biomechanics vol:48 issue:12 pages:3356-3363
New studies show that the elastic properties of the vocal folds (VFs) vary locally. In particular strong gradients exist in the distribution of elastic modulus along the length of the VF ligament, which is an important load-bearing constituent of the VF tissue. There is further evidence that changes in VF health are associated with alterations in modulus gradients. The role of VF modulus gradation on VF vibration and phonation remains unexplored. In this study the magnitude of the gradient in VF elastic modulus is varied, and sophisticated computational simulations are performed of the self-oscillation of three-dimensional VFs with realistic modeling of airflow physical properties. Results highlight that phonation frequency, characteristic modes of deformation and phase differences, glottal airflow rate, spectral-width of vocal output, and glottal jet dynamics are dependent on the magnitude of VF elastic modulus gradation. The results advance the understanding of how VF functional gradation can lead to perceptible changes in speech quality.