The Emergence of Mature Gestural Patterns Is Not Uniform Evidence From an Acoustic Study Research Article
Research Article  |   October 01, 1993
The Emergence of Mature Gestural Patterns Is Not Uniform
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Susan Nittrouer
    Haskins Laboratories New Haven, CT
  • Contact author: Susan Nittrouer, PhD, Boys Town National Research Hospital, 555 North 30th Street, Omaha, NE 68131. E-mail: (Internet) nittrouer@boystown.org
  • Currently at Boys Town National Research Hospital, Omaha, NE.
    Currently at Boys Town National Research Hospital, Omaha, NE.×
Article Information
Hearing & Speech Perception / Acoustics / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   October 01, 1993
The Emergence of Mature Gestural Patterns Is Not Uniform
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 1993, Vol. 36, 959-972. doi:10.1044/jshr.3605.959
History: Received September 30, 1992 , Accepted March 26, 1993
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 1993, Vol. 36, 959-972. doi:10.1044/jshr.3605.959
History: Received September 30, 1992; Accepted March 26, 1993

Previous studies investigating the organization of articulatory gestures present conflicting accounts of age-related differences in the execution of the articulatory gestures themselves and in the organization of those gestures. Several methodological differences may help to explain these contradictions: First, different studies have used different measures, all of which reflect vocal-tract activity to varying extents; second, the articulatory gestures being analyzed differed across studies; third, the phonetic composition of syllables has varied; and finally, utterance length, and therefore complexity, has varied across studies. The purpose of this study was to investigate the possibility that the reason these methodological differences have led to contradictory results is because the emergence of mature gestural patterns in children’s speech is not uniform. To accomplish this goal, detailed acoustic analyses were performed on schwa-stop-vowel utterances from adults and from children (3, 5, and 7 years of age). Temporal measures showed that some acoustic segments were longer in children’s than in adults’ samples, whereas others were similar in duration. Formant frequencies indicated that vocal-tract opening and closing achieve adult-like patterns of movement by the age of 3 years, but children’s tongue gestures are constrained by phonetic context more than those of adults until at least the age of 7 years. Taken together, these results suggest that the pace of development for leading to produce and to coordinate articulatory gestures is not uniform. Thus, the contradictions in findings among earlier studies may very well reflect differences in choices of measurement and utterances to be analyzed, both of which may lead to evaluations of different aspects of gestural patterning.

Acknowledgments
This work was supported by NIH Grant DC-00633 to the author. Data collection was supported, in part, by Boys Town National Research Hospital. The assistance of Gina Meyer and Carol Manning in data analysis and manuscript preparation is gratefully acknowledged. Many people provided comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript, including Michael Studdert-Kennedy, Carol J. Strong, Richard S. McGowan, Ralph N. Ohde, James E. Flege, and Donal G. Sinex.
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