Tactile awareness in children and adults during the production of isolated syllables of English

Percept Mot Skills. 2001 Dec;93(3):859-66. doi: 10.2466/pms.2001.93.3.859.


The purpose of this investigation was to determine whether tactile feedback is developmental in nature. 90 subjects were placed into three groups of 30 individuals each (M ages: 6.8, 10.7, and 18.8 yr.). All subjects passed a speech, language, and hearing screening. The procedure involved asking subjects to imitate the production of a syllable, then describe where the tongue was located during that production. Following this request, subjects answered multiple-choice questions regarding (a) tongue height (high to low), (b) tongue position (front to back), (c) contact with teeth, and (d) contact with other structures within the oral cavity. Seven English phonemes (t, k, sh, r, l, and voiceless th) were presented in a consonant vowel (CV) syllable with the neutral schwa vowel. Subjects were aided by a line drawing of the oral cavity. A significant correlation was found between age and total test score. Significant differences were also found among groups on all phonemes with the exception of r and s. All subjects could describe tongue location during the production of isolated syllables. Adults performed the task best, and young children had the most difficulty, indicating that tactile awareness may be maturational. These findings parallel those of McDonald and Aungst who in 1967 found that identification of oral forms improved with age through midadolescence.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Awareness*
  • Child
  • Feedback
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Language Development*
  • Male
  • Phonation*
  • Tongue
  • Touch*
  • Verbal Behavior*