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Keywords:

  • Speech;
  • Dysarthria;
  • Motor disorders;
  • Parkinson's disease;
  • Huntington's disease;
  • Ataxia

Abstract

The various components of the central motor system are expected to play a similar role in speech production and in upper limb control. Slowed articulatory performance, therefore, must be expected in disorders of the corticobulbar tracts, cerebellum, and basal ganglia. Using an optoelectronic device, the present study recorded lower lip trajectories during production of sentence utterances in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD), Huntington's disease (HD), cerebellar atrophy (CA), and pseudobulbar palsy (PB). The various subject groups showed a similar range of overall motor disability. Patients with CA and PB exhibited slowed movement execution in terms of a reduced ratio of peak velocity to maximum amplitude (“stiffness”)- In contrast to upper limb motor control, the lip excursions showed an uncompromised shape of velocity profiles. Two different patterns emerged in HD. A single patient suffering from the akinetic-rigid Westphal variant of this disease had articulatory hypometria, whereas the remaining subjects showed significant bradykinesia under increased temporal demands, concomitant with normal movement amplitudes. The PD patients had unimpaired velocity-displacement relationships. Presumably, biomechanical constraints such as the rather small excursions of articulatory lower lip gestures or the scarce spindle supply of facial muscles account for the observed discrepancies between upper limb and speech motor control in PD.