Early speech motor development: Cognitive and linguistic considerations

Ignatius S.B. Nip, Jordan R. Green, David B. Marx

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


This longitudinal investigation examines developmental changes in orofacial movements occurring during the early stages of communication development. The goals were to identify developmental trends in early speech motor performance and to determine how these trends differ across orofacial behaviors thought to vary in cognitive and linguistic demands (i.e., silent spontaneous movements, babble, and first words). Movements of the lower lip and jaw were recorded using a three-dimensional motion capture system. Twenty-four infants were observed every 3 months, from 9 to 21 months of age. Jaw and lower lip speed, and lower lip range of movement increased with age. Silent spontaneous movements were consistently slower than words, whereas kinematic measures associated with babble did not differ from those associated with words. These findings suggest that speech movements may reflect linguistic and cognitive processing demands and that the continuity hypothesis between babbling and words may also be observed at the kinematic level. Learning outcomes: Readers will be able to: (1) describe the potential role of cognition and language in early speech development, (2) describe kinematic changes in the orofacial system from 9 to 21 months of age, and (3) identify the differences in kinematic characteristics for silent spontaneous orofacial movements, babbles and words between 15 to 21 months of age.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)286-298
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Communication Disorders
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2009


  • Kinematics
  • Speech
  • Speech motor development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Speech and Hearing
  • LPN and LVN


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