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Department of Linguistics

SPH302: Speech Physiology

Respiratory Anatomy and Physiology

Topics and References

The slide show used in the lecture can be accessed from the iLearn page.

Listed below are the topics covered in this lecture. Where possible, references to books on the reading list are given for each topic.

The textbook reading for this lecture is:-

  • Seikel et al., (2010) chapters 2 and 3

Additional readings:-

  1. Clark, Yallop and Fletcher, section on respiratory physiology
  2. Hardcastle, chapter 3
  3. Ladefoged (1967), section on respiratory physiology
  4. Perkins et al., chapters 2 and 3
  5. Zemlin, chapter 2
  6. Baken, chapters 7 and 8

The Seikel and Perkins references are the most detailed. The Hardcastle reading would represent the minimum post-lecture reading. The Ladefoged reference is specific to only one of the topics below (see the list of sub-topics outlined below).

Click here for a copy of the Respiration class activities.

Respiratory Anatomy

  1. Overview of the Thoracic and Abdominal Cavities
  2. The Lungs
  3. The Rib Cage
  4. Relaxation Pressure: Elastic forces of the lungs and rib cage
  5. Muscles of Inspiration: Muscles of quiet inspiration and accessory muscles of inspiration
  6. Muscles of Exhalation: Muscles of quiet exhalation and accessory muscles of exhalation

Respiratory Physiology

  1. Respiratory Volumes
  2. Lung Capacity versus Sex and Age
  3. Non-speech Respiratory Patterns
  4. Speech Respiratory Patterns
  5. Relaxation Pressures of Inspiration and Expiration
  6. Points of Airflow Resistance in Vocal Tract. Sub-glottal Pressure
  7. Use of Muscles of Inspiration and Expiration to Maintain Sub-glottal Pressure
  8. Relationship between Sub-glottal Pressure and Sound Pressure, Volume Velocity, Fundamental Frequency and Perceived Loudness
    • For this sub-topic, students are particularly referred to Ladefoged (1967).
  9. Phonetic Aspects of Intensity


Following this lecture you should:-

  • know the three types of passive relaxation pressures that are involved in the quiet exhalation of air from the lungs.
  • know the primary muscles of quiet inhalation and how they function to increase the volume of the thoracic cavity.
  • know how the accessory muscles of inhalation assist the primary muscles of inhalation during forced or strenuous inhalation.
  • know the primary muscles of exhalation and their action during quiet exhalation.
  • know how the accessory muscles of exhalation assist the primary muscles of exhalation during forceful exhalation.
  • be able to name and describe the various subdivisions of the total air capacity of the lungs.
  • know how lung capacity varies with sex and age
  • be able to describe the variations in lung volume during quiet respiration and during speech.
  • understand how subglottal pressure is controlled during speech
  • have a basic understanding of the paralinguistic, prosodic and segmental uses of intensity during speech production
  • have an understanding of some of the ways of measuring lung volume during speech and non-speech respiration

Following this lecture you should be able to answers the following questions:-

  • Describe the internal and external structure of the lungs. Discuss the primary and speech functions of the lungs. Why does an increase in thoracic volume result in an increase in lung volume?
  • Describe the structure of the rib cage. Explain how the lifting of the ribs results in an increase in the volume of the lungs.
  • Describe the respiratory and laryngeal factors that act to control sub-glottal pressure.
  • How do the muscles of inhalation and exhalation act antagonistically and synergistically with the passive exhalation forces to maintain a relatively constant sub-glottal pressure during speech?
  • What is the relationship between sub-glottal pressure and sound pressure, volume velocity, fundamental frequency and perceived loudness during speech?
  • How does breathing for speech differ from breathing for life?