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Dynamics of intergestural timing: a perturbation study of lip-larynx coordination


 In this study, downward-directed mechanical perturbations were applied to the lower lip during both repetitive (/…pæpæpæ…/) and discrete (/p ’sæpæpl/) utterances in order to examine the perturbation-induced changes of intergestural timing between syllables (i.e., between the bilabial and laryngeal gestures for successive /p/’s) and within phonemes (i.e., between the bilabial and laryngeal gestures within single /p/’s ). Our findings led us to several conclusions. First, steady-state (phase-resetting) analyses of the repetitive utterances indicated both that ”permanent” phase shifts existed for both the lips and the larynx after the system returned to its pre-perturbation rhythm and that smaller steady-state shifts occurred in the relative phasing of these gestures. These results support the hypothesis that central intergestural dynamics can be reset by peripheral articulatory events. Such resetting was strongest when the perturbation was delivered within a ”sensitive phase” of the cycle, during which the downwardly directed lower-lip perturbation opposed the just-initiated, actively controlled bilabial closing gesture for /p/. Although changes in syllable duration were found for other perturbed phases, these changes were simply transient effects and did not indicate a resetting of the central ”clock.” Second, analyses of the transient portions of the perturbed cycles of the repetitive utterances indicated that the perturbation-induced steady-state phase shifts are almost totally attributable to changes occurring during the first two perturbed cycles. Finally, the transient changes in speech timing induced by perturbations in the discrete sequences appeared to share a common dynamical basis with the changes to the repetitive sequences. We conclude by speculating on the type of dynamical system that could generate these temporal patterns.

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Received: 21 March 1997 / Accepted: 9 June 1998

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Saltzman, E., Löfqvist, A., Kay, B. et al. Dynamics of intergestural timing: a perturbation study of lip-larynx coordination. Exp Brain Res 123, 412–424 (1998).

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  • Key words Speech
  • Motor control
  • Phase resetting
  • Timing
  • Dynamics