Effects of Speaking Rate Changes on Speech Motor Variability in Adults

Emily W. Wang, Maria I. Grigos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The relationship between speaking rate and speech motor variability was examined in three groups of neurotypical adults, n = 40; 15 young adults (18–30 years), 13 adults (31–40 years), and 12 middle-aged adults (41–50 years). Participants completed a connected speech task at three speaking rates (habitual, fast, and slow) where kinematic (lower lip movement) and acoustic data were obtained. Duration and variability were measured at each speaking rate. Findings revealed a complex relationship between speaking rate and variability. Adults from the middle age range (31–40 years) demonstrated shorter acoustic and kinematic durations compared with the oldest age group (41–50 years) during the habitual speaking rate condition. All adults demonstrated the greatest variability in the slow speaking rate condition, with no significant differences in variability between habitual and fast speaking rates. Interestingly, lip aperture variability was significantly lower in the youngest age group (18–30 years) compared with the two older groups during the fast speaking rate condition. Differences in measures of acoustic variability were not observed across the age levels. Strong negative correlations between kinematic/acoustic duration and lip aperture/acoustic variability in the youngest age group were revealed. Therefore, while a slow speaking rate does result in greater variability compared with habitual and fast speaking rates, longer durations of productions by the different age groups were not linked to higher spatiotemporal index (STI) values, suggesting that timing influences speech motor variability, but is not the sole contributor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalLanguage and Speech
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • speaking rate
  • speech motor control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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