The role of metrical information in apraxia of speech. Perceptual and acoustic analyses of word stress

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Abstract

Several factors are known to influence speech accuracy in patients with apraxia of speech (AOS), e.g., syllable structure or word length. However, the impact of word stress has largely been neglected so far. More generally, the role of prosodic information at the phonetic encoding stage of speech production often remains unconsidered in models of speech production. This study aimed to investigate the influence of word stress on error production in AOS. Two-syllabic words with stress on the first (trochees) vs. the second syllable (iambs) were compared in 14 patients with AOS, three of them exhibiting pure AOS, and in a control group of six normal speakers. The patients produced significantly more errors on iambic than on trochaic words. A most prominent metrical effect was obtained for segmental errors. Acoustic analyses of word durations revealed a disproportionate advantage of the trochaic meter in the patients relative to the healthy controls. The results indicate that German apraxic speakers are sensitive to metrical information. It is assumed that metrical patterns function as prosodic frames for articulation planning, and that the regular metrical pattern in German, the trochaic form, has a facilitating effect on word production in patients with AOS.

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