Conducting research on the effects of intoxication on speech


  • Harry Hollien University of Florida
  • Camilo A. Martin University of Florida



Speech distortions, intoxication effects on speech/voice, alcohol and speech.


Most types of behavioural research are difficult to carry out, at least with acceptable rigour; investigation of the effects of ethanol upon speech is a good example of such a challenge. To date bur little research on the issue has been reported; the problem here appears to be the difficulty in developing and carrying our appropriate experiments. In response, the thrust of the present project was two-fold: ( 1) to address the robustness/accuracy of traditional investigational procedures and (2) to generate controlled pilot data on speech-intoxication relationships. First, both established and new methodologies were assessed and attempts were made to correlate the physiological approaches with the behavioural. Second, initial data was gathered on the suprasegmentals of speech. To accomplish these goals, carefully selected subjects were studied at a number of highly controlled levels of intoxication. It was found that traditional approaches resulted in difficulties with experimental precision whereas modified procedures could be used to overcome these problems. Second, while the aural-perceptual data did not correlate very well with the physiological, some information was gained as to how to assess motor speech deficits under controlled procedures. Finally, measures of FO shift exhibited an upward trend for most speakers, and duration was increased, as a function of increments in intoxication.

Author Biographies

  • Harry Hollien, University of Florida
    HARRY HOLLIEN received his BS and MED from Boston University and an MA and PhD from the University of Iowa. He is Professor of Linguistics, Speech and Criminal Justice and Founding Director of the Institute for Advanced Study of the Communication Processes, University of Florida. Currently, he is President of the International Society of Phonetic Science and was the first president of the American Association of Phonetic Sciences. He is the author of over 250 major publications; one of his two books is "The Acoustics of Crime" (New York: Plenum).
  • Camilo A. Martin, University of Florida
    DR CAMILO A. MARTIN is Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Florida and Medical Director of the Substance Abuse Treatment Program at the Gainesville Veteran's Administration Medical Center. He earned his medical degree at the University of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and then was trained in Psychiatry at the Albany Medical Center Hospital in Albany, New York and the Albany Medical College of Union University. He subsequently has specialized in Addiction Medicine and Psychiatry. His research interests include the psychobiology of substance abuse.






How to Cite

Hollien, H., & Martin, C. A. (1996). Conducting research on the effects of intoxication on speech. International Journal of Speech, Language and the Law, 3(1), 107-128.