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Rate modulation abilities & motor speech disorders (Utianski et al., 2023)

posted on 2023-02-13, 18:03 authored by Rene L. Utianski, Joseph R. Duffy, Peter R. Martin, Heather M. Clark, Julie A. G. Stierwalt, Hugo Botha, Farwa Ali, Jennifer L. Whitwell, Keith A. Josephs

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to describe, compare, and understand speech modulation capabilities of patients with varying motor speech disorders (MSDs) in a paradigm in which patients made highly cued attempts to speak faster or slower.

Method: Twenty-nine patients, 12 with apraxia of speech (AOS; four phonetic and eight prosodic subtype), eight with dysarthria (six hypokinetic and two spastic subtype), and nine patients without any neurogenic MSD completed a standard motor speech evaluation where they were asked to repeat words and sentences, which served as their “natural” speaking rate. They were then asked to repeat lower complexity (counting 1–5; repeating “cat” and “catnip” 3 times each) and higher complexity stimuli (repeating “catastrophe” and “stethoscope” 3 times each and “My physician wrote out a prescription” once) as fast/slow as possible. Word durations and interword intervals were measured. Linear mixed-effects models were used to assess differences related to MSD subtype and stimuli complexity on bidirectional rate modulation capacity as indexed by word duration and interword interval. Articulatory accuracy was also judged and compared.

Results: Patients with prosodic AOS demonstrated a reduced ability to go faster; while they performed similarly to patients with spastic dysarthria when counting, patients with spastic dysarthria were able to increase rate similar to controls during sentence repetition; patients with prosodic AOS could not and made increased articulatory errors attempting to increase rate. AOS patients made more articulatory errors relative to other groups, regardless of condition; however, their percentage of errors reduced with an intentionally slowed speaking rate.

Conclusions: The findings suggest comparative rate modulation abilities in conjunction with their impact on articulatory accuracy may support differential diagnosis between healthy and abnormal speech and among subtypes of MSDs (i.e., type of dysarthria or AOS). Findings need to be validated in a larger, more representative cohort encompassing several types of MSDs.

Supplemental Material S1. Numerical results of linear mixed effects models.

Supplemental Material S2. The fastest and slowest durations for each group.

Utianski, R. L., Duffy, J. R., Martin, P. R., Clark, H. M., Stierwalt, J. A. G., Botha, H., Ali, F., Whitwell, J. L., & Josephs, K. A. (2023). Rate modulation abilities in acquired motor speech disorders. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research. Advance online publication.

Publisher Note: This article is part of the Special Issue: Select Papers From the 2022 Conference on Motor Speech.


This study was funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grants R01 DC014942 (PI: Josephs) and R01 DC012519 (PI: Whitwell) and National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Grant R01 NS089757 (PI: Whitwell).