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Am J Speech Lang Pathol. 2008 Aug;17(3):277-98. doi: 10.1044/1058-0360(2008/025).

Principles of motor learning in treatment of motor speech disorders.

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  • 1Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721-0071, USA.



There has been renewed interest on the part of speech-language pathologists to understand how the motor system learns and determine whether principles of motor learning, derived from studies of nonspeech motor skills, apply to treatment of motor speech disorders. The purpose of this tutorial is to introduce principles that enhance motor learning for nonspeech motor skills and to examine the extent to which these principles apply in treatment of motor speech disorders.


This tutorial critically reviews various principles in the context of nonspeech motor learning by reviewing selected literature from the major journals in motor learning. The potential application of these principles to speech motor learning is then discussed by reviewing relevant literature on treatment of speech disorders. Specific attention is paid to how these principles may be incorporated into treatment for motor speech disorders.


Evidence from nonspeech motor learning suggests that various principles may interact with each other and differentially affect diverse aspects of movements. Whereas few studies have directly examined these principles in speech motor (re)learning, available evidence suggests that these principles hold promise for treatment of motor speech disorders. Further research is necessary to determine which principles apply to speech motor (re)learning in impaired populations.

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