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Motor Learning of Volitional Nonspeech Oral Movements:
Intraoral Pressure and Articulatory Kinematics

Susan Shaiman, Malcolm R. McNeil, Neil J. Szuminsky, Kimberly M. Meigh & Julie B. Kotler

The use of nonspeech oral movements in the evaluation and treatment of motor speech disorders is based on the assumption that the behavior of these structures provides insight into the underlying motor control mechanisms and neurophysiological dysfunction. While often criticized, there is little basic neuromotor evidence to either support or refute this assumption. Previous tasks selected to examine the relationship between speech and nonspeech oral motor control have exhibited substantive differences in goals, organization and complexity that limit the extent to which a legitimate comparison can be made. The current study expands on earlier work by Shaiman, McNeil & Szuminsky (2004), who attempted to validate a nonspeech task which addressed several of these critical differences. While the earlier study demonstrated learning of the complex nonspeech task, only limited transfer was demonstrated. In the current study, increased practice on this highly complex nonspeech task demonstrates improved retention and transfer on untrained nonspeech tasks and comparable speech tasks. In an attempt to address the issue that different patterns of kinematic activity for the same oral structures have been observed during nonspeech and speech productions, kinematic patterns of the lips and jaw are compared for novel nonspeech, learned nonspeech and speech gestures.

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