Effects of ageing on orofacial fine force control and its relationship with parallel change in sensory perception

Nicole M. Etter, Patrick O. McKeon, Emily V. Dressler, Richard D. Andreatta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Purpose: Current theoretical models suggest the importance of a bidirectional relationship between sensation and production in the vocal tract to maintain lifelong speech skills. The purpose of this study was to assess age-related changes in orofacial skilled force production and to begin defining the orofacial perception-action relationship in healthy adults. Method: Low-level orofacial force control measures (reaction time, rise time, peak force, mean hold force (N) and force hold SD) were collected from 60 adults (19–84 years). Non-parametric Kruskal Wallis tests were performed to identify statistical differences between force and group demographics. Non-parametric Spearman’s rank correlations were completed to compare force measures against previously published sensory data from the same cohort of participants. Result: Significant group differences in force control were found for age, sex, speech usage and smoking status. Significant correlational relationships were identified between labial vibrotactile thresholds and several low-level force control measures collected during step and ramp-and-hold conditions. Conclusion: These findings demonstrate age-related alterations in orofacial force production. Furthermore, correlational analysis suggests as vibrotactile detection thresholds increase, the ability to maintain low-level force control accuracy decreases. Possible clinical applications and treatment consequences of these findings for speech disorders in the ageing population are provided.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)502-515
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Speech-Language Pathology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Speech Pathology Association of Australia Limited.


  • Ageing
  • Force control
  • Orofacial
  • Perception
  • Vibration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Research and Theory
  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • LPN and LVN
  • Speech and Hearing


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