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Quick compensatory mechanisms for tongue posture stabilization during speech production

Abstract : The human tongue is atypical as a motor system since its movement is determined by deforming its soft tissues via muscles that are in large part embedded in it (muscular hydrostats). However, the neurophysiological mechanisms enabling fine tongue motor control are not well understood. We investigated sensorimotor control mechanisms of the tongue through a perturbation experiment. A mechanical perturbation was applied to the tongue during the articulation of three vowels (/i/, /e/, /ε/) under conditions of voicing, whispering, and posturing. Tongue movements were measured at three surface locations in the sagittal plane using electromagnetic articulography. We found that the displacement induced by the external force was quickly compensated for. Individual sensors did not return to their original positions but went toward a position on the original tongue contour for that vowel. The amplitude of compensatory response at each tongue site varied systematically according to the articulatory condition. A mathematical simulation that included reflex mechanisms suggested that the observed compensatory response can be attributed to a reflex mechanism, rather than passive tissue properties. The results provide evidence for the existence of quick compensatory mechanisms in the tongue that may be dependent on tunable reflexes. The tongue posture for vowels could be regulated in relation to the shape of the tongue contour, rather than to specific positions for individual tissue points.
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Submitted on : Saturday, May 23, 2020 - 9:59:04 AM
Last modification on : Wednesday, November 3, 2021 - 4:26:23 AM

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Takayuki Ito, Andrew Szabados, Jean-Loup Caillet, Pascal Perrier. Quick compensatory mechanisms for tongue posture stabilization during speech production. Journal of Neurophysiology, American Physiological Society, 2020, 123 (6), pp.2491-2503. ⟨10.1152/jn.00756.2019⟩. ⟨hal-02615652⟩



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