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Kinematic learning of a novel speech task
Torrey M. J. Loucks, Mary Kay Kenney, Christopher J. Poletto, Aude Palein and Christy L. Ludlow

Speech development represents a complex integration of linguistic and motor learning during biological maturation. Phonological learning may proceed at a faster rate than speech motor learning because children show higher variability in speech kinematics and acoustic production compared to adults after their phonological representations appear stable. We hypothesized that the learning of novel, complex pseudowords by adults over 48 repetition trials will differentiate phonological learning from speech motor learning. Movements of the tongue, lips and jaw were recorded using articulography in normal subjects as the individuals attempted to learn a complex pseudoword using repetition of a constant model. The subjects demonstrated stable phonological productions during repetition trials, however, the kinematic measures showed that tongue movement variability changed significantly over the experiment. The spatiotemporal index of tongue tip movement was significantly greater in the first block of 12 trials than during the last block. In addition, the accuracy of tongue movement sequences increased while word duration did not change. The prolonged kinematic changes contrasted with the stable phonological accuracy of the pseudoword repetitions suggesting that motoric changes can continue even after the phonological productions of a word are stable.

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