Does Speech Emerge From Earlier Appearing Oral Motor Behaviors?

J Speech Hear Res. 1996 Oct;39(5):1034-47. doi: 10.1044/jshr.3905.1034.


This investigation was designed to quantify the coordinative organization of mandibular muscles in toddlers during speech and nonspeech behaviors. Seven 15-month-olds were observed during spontaneous production of chewing, sucking, babbling, and speech. Comparison of mandibular coordination across these behaviors revealed that, even for children in the earliest stages of true word production, coordination was quite different from that observed for other behaviors. Production of true words was predominantly characterized by relatively stronger coupling among all mandibular muscles compared with earlier-emerging chewing and sucking. Variegated babbling exhibited stronger coupling than reduplicated babbling, as well as chewing and sucking. The finding of coupled activation among mandibular antagonists during speech paralleled earlier comparisons of adult speech and nonspeech behaviors (Moore, Smith, & Ringel, 1988) and did not support the suggestion that speech coordination emerges from earlier appearing oral motor behaviors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Mandible / physiology
  • Speech / physiology*
  • Verbal Behavior