Research Note  |   February 2007
Internal Versus External: Oral-Motor Performance as a Function of Attentional Focus
 
Author Notes
  • Contact author: Skott E. Freedman, SDSU/UCSD Joint Doctoral Program in Language and Communicative Disorders, San Diego State University, 5500 Campanile Drive, San Diego, CA 92182-1518. E-mail: sfreedman@ucsd.edu.
  • Donald A. Robin is now at University of Texas, Health Science Center, San Antonio, and University of Texas, San Antonio.
    Donald A. Robin is now at University of Texas, Health Science Center, San Antonio, and University of Texas, San Antonio.×
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosody / Speech
Research Note   |   February 2007
Internal Versus External: Oral-Motor Performance as a Function of Attentional Focus
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2007, Vol. 50, 131-136. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2007/011)
History: Received September 22, 2005 , Revised February 5, 2006 , Accepted May 11, 2006
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2007, Vol. 50, 131-136. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2007/011)
History: Received September 22, 2005; Revised February 5, 2006; Accepted May 11, 2006
Web of Science® Times Cited: 12

Purpose: Previous studies (e.g., G. Wulf, M. Höß, & W. Prinz, 1998; G. Wulf, B. Lauterbach, & T. Toole, 1999; for a review, see G. Wulf & W. Prinz, 2001) have reported that limb motor performance is enhanced when individuals adopt an external focus (focusing on the effect of the movement) versus an internal focus of attention (focusing on body parts such as the muscles of the hand). This study tested the hypothesis that the effects of attentional focus on limb performance would also occur in the oral-facial system.

Method: Two groups of 23 participants were administered both hand and tongue impulse force control tasks in which each group was randomly assigned either an internal or an external focus of attention. Participants were required to exert rapid pressure bursts to achieve a target force level of 20% of their maximal strength.

Results: Consistent with limb studies, findings revealed a significant advantage of an external focus (greater accuracy, less variability) for both the hand and tongue control tasks, as opposed to an internal focus of attention.

Conclusions: Results are discussed relative to a constrained-action theory of motor control and future application to speech motor learning.

Acknowledgments
We thank Shelby Gerson, Elizabeth Lang, and Alisa Schleper for their time and effort with data collection and analysis. We also thank Erich Luschei for apparatus consultation.
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