A framework of motoric complexity: An investigation in children with typical and impaired speech development

Julie Case, Maria I. Grigos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: The current work presents a framework of motoric complexity where stimuli differ according to movement elements across a sound sequence (i.e., consonant transitions and vowel direction). This framework was then examined in children with childhood apraxia of speech (CAS), other speech sound disorders (SSDs), and typical development (TD). Method: Twenty-four children (CAS, n = 8; SSD, n = 8; TD, n =8),5–6 years of age, participated in this study. The children produced words that varied in motoric complexity while transcription, acoustic, and kinematic data were collected. Multidimensional analyses were conducted to examine speech production accuracy, speech motor variability, and temporal control. Results: Analyses revealed poorer accuracy, longer movement duration, and greater speech motor variability in children with CAS than TD (across all measures) and other SSDs (accuracy and variability). All children demonstrated greater speech motor variability and longer duration as movement demands increased within the framework of motoric complexity. Diagnostic grouping did not mediate performance on this task. Conclusions: Results of this study are believed to reveal gradations of complexity with increasing movement demands, thereby supporting the proposed framework of motoric complexity. This work also supports the importance of considering motoric properties of sound sequences when evaluating speech production skills and designing experimental and treatment stimuli.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3326-3348
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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