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Electromagnetic articulography

Electromagnetic articulography (EMA) is a method of measuring the position of parts of the mouth. EMA uses sensor coils placed on the tongue and other parts of the mouth to measure their position and movement over time during speech and swallowing. Induction coils around the head produce an electromagnetic field that creates, or induces, a current in the sensors in the mouth. Because the current induced is inversely proportional to the cube of the distance, a computer is able to analyse the current produced and determine the sensor coil's location in space.

EMA is used in linguistics and speech pathology to study articulation and in medicine to study oropharyngeal dysphagia. Unlike other methods of data collection, EMA does not expose subjects to ionizing radiation and allows for large amounts of data to be collected easily.

The ability to observe the movements of articulators has been of great importance to the study of phonetics in order to understand the way sounds are produced.

Electromagnetic articulography uses the principle of electromagnetic induction to measure the position and movement of various points in and around the mouth. A helmet containing electromagnetic transmitters creates a variable magnetic field by running currents through the transmitters at different frequencies. Sensor coils placed midsagittally in the mouth produce current as they move through the magnetic field inversely proportional to the cube of the distance from the transmitters. The current induced alternates at the same frequency as the transmitter coil and the composite signal can be separated out to determine the distance from each individual coil, thus determining the position of the sensor in space.

In two-dimensional articulography, transmitter coils are placed in an equilateral triangle along the midsagittal plane at the forehead, chin, and neck. Because of the geometric orientation of the transmitter coils, accurate readings are able to be taken as long as the sensor coils placed on the tongue stay within about a centimeter of the midsagittal plane and are not angled at more than 30 degrees.



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