Assessing Articulatory Speed Performance as a Potential Factor of Slowed Speech in Older Adults PurposeTo improve our understanding about the underlying factors of aging-related speaking rate decline, the authors sought to determine if lip and jaw speeds are physiologically constrained in older adults.MethodThirty-six females—10 young adults (ages 22–27 years), 9 middle-aged adults (ages 45–55 years), 10 young-old adults (65–74 years), and 7 very old ... Research Article
Research Article  |   April 01, 2014
Assessing Articulatory Speed Performance as a Potential Factor of Slowed Speech in Older Adults
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Antje S. Mefferd
    Wichita State University, KS
  • Erin E. Corder
    Wichita State University, KS
  • Disclosure:The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure:The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.×
  • Correspondence to Antje S. Mefferd: antje.mefferd@wichita.edu
  • Editor: Jody Kreiman
    Editor: Jody Kreiman×
  • Associate Editor: Robert Fox
    Associate Editor: Robert Fox×
Article Information
Special Populations / Older Adults & Aging / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Speech
Research Article   |   April 01, 2014
Assessing Articulatory Speed Performance as a Potential Factor of Slowed Speech in Older Adults
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2014, Vol. 57, 347-360. doi:10.1044/2014_JSLHR-S-12-0261
History: Received August 19, 2012 , Revised May 8, 2013 , Accepted July 1, 2013
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2014, Vol. 57, 347-360. doi:10.1044/2014_JSLHR-S-12-0261
History: Received August 19, 2012; Revised May 8, 2013; Accepted July 1, 2013
Web of Science® Times Cited: 2

PurposeTo improve our understanding about the underlying factors of aging-related speaking rate decline, the authors sought to determine if lip and jaw speeds are physiologically constrained in older adults.

MethodThirty-six females—10 young adults (ages 22–27 years), 9 middle-aged adults (ages 45–55 years), 10 young-old adults (65–74 years), and 7 very old adults (ages 87–95 years)—completed metronome-paced syllable repetitions while moving the lower lip or jaw to a fixed target with each repetition. Metronome paces incrementally increased from 1.4 Hz to 6.7 Hz. Lip and jaw movements were tracked using a 3-dimensional motion capture system.

ResultsOlder adults' maximum percent increase in lip and jaw peak speed was comparable to or tended to be even greater than that of middle-aged and young adults. By contrast, lip and jaw stiffness, indexed by peak speed–displacement ratios, tended to decrease with age during fast and very fast repetition rates and were associated with mildly prolonged movement durations.

ConclusionsThe findings suggest that lip and jaw speeds are not constrained in older adults. The trend of reduced stiffness during fast rates, however, suggests that fine-force regulation becomes difficult for older adults. Thus, older adults may implement reduced habitual speaking rates as a behavioral strategy to compensate for diminished articulatory control.

Acknowledgments
This work was supported in part by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) Advancing Academic Research Careers (AARC) mentoring grant, provided to the first author. Parts of this study were conducted as a master's thesis by the second author. Preliminary results were presented in November 2011 at the Annual Convention of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association in San Diego, CA, and in February 2012 at the Motor Speech Conference in Santa Rosa, CA. We would like to thank all participants for their willingness to complete this study and the Kansas Masonic Home for their support. We also thank Sean Hess, Carol Hassebroek, Cliff Bragg, and Ali Sanderson for their valuable contributions and their assistance with data collection and analyses as well as the two reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions.
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