Activation of Lip Motor Units With Variations in Speech Rate and Phonetic Structure The purpose of this study was to describe the activation characteristics of lip-muscle single motor units in relation to speech rate and phonetic structure. Repeated experiments were carried out on three adult subjects from whom recordings of lower lip EMG and two-dimensional displacement were obtained. Single motor unit recordings were ... Research Article
Research Article  |   August 01, 1995
Activation of Lip Motor Units With Variations in Speech Rate and Phonetic Structure
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Michael D. McClean
    Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, DC
  • John L. Clay
    Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, DC
  • Contact author: Michael D. McClean, PhD, Audiology and Speech Center, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, DC 20307-5001. E-mail: mcclean@wrair-ehm1.army.mil
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosody / Speech / Research Articles
Research Article   |   August 01, 1995
Activation of Lip Motor Units With Variations in Speech Rate and Phonetic Structure
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 1995, Vol. 38, 772-782. doi:10.1044/jshr.3804.772
History: Received September 23, 1994 , Accepted January 27, 1995
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 1995, Vol. 38, 772-782. doi:10.1044/jshr.3804.772
History: Received September 23, 1994; Accepted January 27, 1995

The purpose of this study was to describe the activation characteristics of lip-muscle single motor units in relation to speech rate and phonetic structure. Repeated experiments were carried out on three adult subjects from whom recordings of lower lip EMG and two-dimensional displacement were obtained. Single motor unit recordings were obtained from the orbicularis oris inferior (OOI), depressor labii inferior (DLI), and mentalis (MENT) muscles. Subjects' tasks involved repeating CV syllables at 1 to 4 syllables per second (syl/sec). The distribution of interspike intervals and corresponding firing rates were obtained on 11 motor units. The firing rates of OOI and MENT motor units increased as syllable rate changed from 1 to 3 syl/sec, but firing rates tended to be equivalent at 3 and 4 syl/sec. DLI and tonic motor units showed little or no modulation in their firing rates with speech rate. Firing rate data and related observations on lip movement and EMG spike count levels suggest that distinct neuromechanical processes control lip movements at low and high speech rates. Both kinematic and EMG data support the expectation that phonetic structure has its greatest effects on lip opening compared to lip closing movements in CV syllables. OOI and MENT activation levels tended to be highest for /p/ productions compared to /w/ and /f/. This may be related to the requirements for complete lip closure and elevated levels of intraoral pressure for production of /p/.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by the Department of Clinical Investigation, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, under Work Unit 2519, and was approved by the Center’s Human Use Committee. All subjects enrolled into the study voluntarily agreed to participate and gave written and informed consent. The opinions or assertions contained herein are the private views of the authors and are not to be construed as official or as reflecting the views of the Department of the Army or the Department of Defense.
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