Ageing is an inevitable natural process which entails changes at several physiological levels, including the central nervous system, the musculoskeletal system, the skeletal system, the cardiovascular system and the respiratory system. Crucially, increasing age affects motor control in general, involving a slowing down of, for example, the movements of the limbs (Brown, 1996). However, very little is known about how ageing affects speech production. Speech motor control almost exclusively involves fine motor control of the articulators, with the millimetre precision and split-second timing required to perform this highly complex task. As in motor control in general, a commonly reported effect of ageing on speech is that the tempo is slower, leading to a general slowing down of articulation rates (Amerman & Parnell, 1992). However, our knowledge of how ageing affects specific patterns of speech motor control, such as the coordination patterns within the oral system in the production of consonants and vowels, is limited by the fact that most studies are primarily based on acoustics. This study investigates ageing effects in speech motor control using Electromagnetic Articulography (EMA).
Antje Mefferd (Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences, Vanderbilt University Medical Center)
Jonah Katz (West Virginia University)
Michele Gubian (IPS, LMU Munich)
Nancy C. Kula (University of Essex)