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J Neurophysiol. 1984 Apr;51(4):705-23.

Control of complex motor gestures: orofacial muscle responses to load perturbations of lip during speech.


The contribution of ascending afferents to the control of speech movement was evaluated by applying unanticipated loads to the lower lip during the generation of combined upper lip-lower lip speech gestures. To eliminate potential contamination due to anticipation or adaptation, loads were applied randomly on only 10-15% of the trials. Physical characteristics of the perturbations were within the normal range of forces and movements involved in natural lip actions for speech. Compensatory responses in multiple facial muscles and lip movements were observed the first time a load was introduced, and achievement of the multimovement speech goals was never disrupted by these perturbations. Muscle responses were seen in the lower lip muscles, implicating corrective, feedback processes. Additionally, compensatory responses to these lower lip loads were also observed in the independently controlled muscles of the upper lip, reflecting the parallel operation of open-loop, sensorimotor mechanisms. Compensatory responses from both the upper and lower lip muscles were observed with small (1 mm) as well as large (15 mm) perturbations. The latencies of these compensatory responses were not discernible by conventional ensemble averaging. Moreover, responses at latencies of lower brain stem-mediated reflexes (i.e., 10-18 ms) were not apparent with inspection of individual records. Response latencies were determined on individual loaded trials through the use of a computer algorithm that took into account the variability of electromyograms (EMG) among the control trials. These latency measures confirmed the absence of brain stem-mediated responses and yielded response latencies that ranged from 22 to 75 ms. Response latencies appeared to be influenced by the time relation between load onset and the initiation of muscle activation. Examination of muscle activity changes for individual loaded trials revealed complementary variations in the magnitude of responses among multiple muscles contributing to a movement compensation. These observations may have implications for limb movement control if multimovement speech gestures are considered analogous to a limb action requiring coordinated movements around multiple joints. In this context, these speech motor control data might be interpreted to suggest that for complex movements, both corrective feedback and open-loop predictive processes are operating, with the latter involved in the control of coordination among multiple movement subcomponents.

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