Aging of speech production, from articulatory accuracy to motor timing.

Despite the huge importance of spoken language production in everyday life, little is known about the manner and extent to which the motor aspects of speech production evolve with advancing age, as well as the nature of the underlying senescence mechanisms. In this cross-sectional group study, we examined the relationship between age and speech production performance using a nonlexical speech production task in which spoken syllable frequency and phonological complexity were systematically varied to test hypotheses about underlying mechanisms. A nonprobabilistic sample of 60 cognitively healthy adults (18–83 years) produced meaningless nonwords aloud as quickly and accurately as possible. Error rate, vocal reaction time (RT), vocal RT variability, vocal response duration, and vocal response duration variability were used as dependent variables to characterize speech production performance. The results showed an overall increase in error rate, which occurred mainly in the final syllable position (coda). There was also an increase in vocal response duration and in duration variability with age, which was moderated by phonological complexity and syllable frequency. Finally, we also found an age-related change in the relationship between vocal RT and vocal response duration. Together, these findings were interpreted as reflecting an age-related decline in the planning and execution of speech movements in cognitively healthy adults. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)