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This paper presents a comparative conceptual review of speech and limb motor control. Speech is essentially cognitive in nature and constrained by the rules of language, while limb movement is often oriented to physical objects. We discuss the issue of intrinsic vs. extrinsic variables underlying the representations of motor goals as well as whether motor goals specify terminal postures or entire trajectories. Timing and coordination is recognized as an area of strong interchange between the two domains. Although coordination among different motor acts within a sequence and coarticulation are central to speech motor control, they have received only limited attention in manipulatory movements. The biomechanics of speech production is characterized by the presence of soft tissue, a variable number of degrees of freedom, and the challenges of high rates of production, while limb movements deal more typically with inertial constraints from manipulated objects. This comparative review thus leads us to identify many strands of thinking that are shared across the two domains, but also points us to issues on which approaches in the two domains differ. We conclude that conceptual interchange between the fields of limb and speech motor control has been useful in the past and promises continued benefit.
Grimme and Schöner are with the Institut für Neuroinformatik, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany, Fuchs is with the Center for General Linguistics (ZAS), Berlin, Germany. Perrier is with ICP/Gipsalaboratory, CNRS, Grenoble INP, Grenoble, France.