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Alesha Reed, Jacqueline Cummine, Neesha Bhat, Shivraj Jhala, Reyhaneh Bakhtiari, and Carol A. Boliek

rate of speech have been described ( Amerman & Parnell, 1992 ; Barberger-Gateau & Fabrigoule, 1997 ; Jacewicz, Fox, O’Neill, & Salmons, 2009 ; Salthouse, 2000 ; Stöckel, Wunsch, & Hughes, 2017 ). Whereas speech production is a motor act, the preparation process required to produce speech involves a

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Mark L. Latash and Irina L. Mikaelian

We explored the relations between task difficulty and speech time in picture description tasks. Six native speakers of Mandarin Chinese (CH group) and six native speakers or Indo-European languages (IE group) produced quick and accurate verbal descriptions of pictures in a self-paced manner. The pictures always involved two objects, a plate and one of the three objects (a stick, a fork, or a knife) located and oriented differently with respect to the plate in different trials. An index of difficulty was assigned to each picture. CH group showed lower reaction time and much lower speech time. Speech time scaled linearly with the log-transformed index of difficulty in all subjects. The results suggest generality of Fitts’ law for movement and speech tasks, and possibly for other cognitive tasks as well. The differences between the CH and IE groups may be due to specific task features, differences in the grammatical rules of CH and IE languages, and possible use of tone for information transmission.

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Amanda Faith Casey and Claudia Emes

Reduced respiratory muscle strength in individuals with Down syndrome (DS) may affect speech respiratory variables such as maximum phonation duration (MPD), initiation volume, and expired mean airflow. Researchers randomly assigned adolescents with DS (N = 28) to either 12 weeks of swim training (DS-ST) or a control group (DS-NT). Repeated measures MANOVA demonstrated a significant increase in MPD for DS-ST participants from pretest to posttest, t(11) = –3.44, p = 0.006, that was not maintained at follow-up, t(11) = 6.680, p < .001. No significant change was observed for DS-NT participants across time, F(2, 11) = 4.20, p = 0.044. The lack of long-term change in DS-ST participants may be related to the relatively short training period.

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Kelly Jones and Karen Croot

There are few investigations comparing practice schedules in speech motor learning, despite certain schedules being recommended for the clinical treatment of speech motor disorders. This study compared effects of random, blocked and mixed practice on tongue twister accuracy in unimpaired speakers. We hypothesized that blocked practice would benefit acquisition of learning, but that random practice and mixed blocked-then-random practice would yield superior retention of learning. We found that the random and blocked-random practice schedules yielded superior accuracy at the end of the acquisition phase of learning and at a 1-week retention test. Exploratory post hoc analyses raised the possibility that the retention effects were most evident when tongue twisters were elicited in a random schedule. Theoretical accounts of these results are discussed.

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Mohammad A. Nazari, Pascal Perrier, Matthieu Chabanas, and Yohan Payan

On the basis of simulations carried out with a finite element biomechanical model of the face, the influence of the muscle stress stiffening effect was studied for the protrusion/rounding of the lips produced with the Orbicularis Oris (OO). It is shown that the stress stiffening effect influences lip shape. When stress stiffening is modeled, the variation in the crucial geometrical characteristics of the lips shows a clear saturation effect as the OO activation level increases. Similarly, for a sufficient amount of OO activation, a saturation effect is observed when stiffening increases. In both cases, differences in lip shaping associated with the absence or presence of stiffening have consequences for the spectral characteristics of the speech signal obtained for the French vowel /u/. These results are interpreted in terms of their consequences for the motor control strategies underlying the protrusion/rounding gesture in speech production.

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Natalia Zharkova, Nigel Hewlett, and William J. Hardcastle

There are still crucial gaps in our knowledge about developmental paths taken by children to adult-like speech motor control. Mature control of articulators during speaking is manifested in the appropriate extent of coarticulation (the articulatory overlap of speech sounds). This study compared lingual coarticulatory properties of child and adult speech, using ultrasound tongue imaging. The participants were speakers of Standard Scottish English, ten adults and ten children aged 6–9 years. Consonant-vowel syllables were presented in a carrier phrase. Distances between tongue curves were used to quantify coarticulation. In both adults and children, vowel pairs /a/-/i/ and /a/-/u/ significantly affected the consonant, and the vowel pair /i/-/u/ did not. Extent of coarticulation was significantly greater in the children than in the adults, providing support for the notion that children’s speech production operates with larger units than adults’. More within-speaker variability was found in the children than in the adults.

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Stefania Marin and Marianne Pouplier

This study systematically investigates the temporal organization of American English onset and coda consonant clusters on the basis of kinematic data. Results from seven speakers suggest that consonants in complex onsets are organized globally with respect to the following vowel, while consonants in complex codas are organized locally relative to the preceding vowel. These results support the competitive coupling model hypothesized for complex onsets, a model according to which consonant gestures in onsets are each coupled in-phase to the vowel, and antiphase with each other. The results are overall also consistent with the noncompetitive coupling relations assumed for codas, by which only the first consonant in a cluster is coupled antiphase with the vowel, and any subsequent consonants are coupled antiphase to each other. However, our data also show that the segmental composition of the cluster affects the timing relationship in codas, particularly /lC/ coda clusters pattern differently from other clusters and do not adhere to the predicted timing relations. The data contribute to our understanding of the interaction of linguistic structure and motor control of the articulators in speech production.

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Britta Grimme, Susanne Fuchs, Pascal Perrier, and Gregor Schöner

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.

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Abdulaziz Almudhi and Hamayun Zafar

overcome stuttering by the time they attain puberty. Meaningful speech production is a human characteristic and is immensely complex in nature. It requires intricate neuronal systems, strategies, and mechanisms to convert a thought into phonetics of a language. This, further, is converted to motor control

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Carol A. Boliek, Reyhaneh Bakhtiari, Lauren Pedersen, Julia R. Esch, and Jacqueline Cummine

. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, 159 , 179 – 187 . doi:10.1164/ajrccm.159.1.9712108 10.1164/ajrccm.159.1.9712108 Hixon , T.J. , Goldman , M.D. , & Mead , J. ( 1973 ). Kinematics of the chest wall during speech production: Volume displacements of the rib cage, abdomen