Research Topic

Neural bases of speech motor control: have we made progress since Broca’s era?

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The ability to articulate speech is a unique feature of the human condition, yet historically research has focused on language abilities, with a critical lack of focus on the motoric act of speech. ...

The ability to articulate speech is a unique feature of the human condition, yet historically research has focused on language abilities, with a critical lack of focus on the motoric act of speech.
It has been suggested that vocal communication emerged from gesture (1), while others argue that speech is inherently distinct from even other orofacial gestures (2). Discovery of FOXP2 in 2001, the first monogenic gene associated with a speech disorder, has generated a huge amount of interest on how genetic changes in our recent evolution may have shaped our ability to articulate speech. Limitations of animal models for speech motor control are obvious. A key application in this area has been in-vivo neuroimaging, but has our knowledge significantly advanced with the use of such techniques? Have we made ground-breaking progress towards a neural model of speech production? Do we yet understand the neural basis of speech disorders? Importantly, has science in this area advanced knowledge of prognosis and intervention for people with disordered speech?
To answer these questions, we welcome articles from experts from a wide range of disciplines to provide a comprehensive overview of recent discoveries in the field of Speech Motor Control. We welcome historical perspectives on the topic; theories of speech evolution; theories of speech production throughout the lifespan; neuroimaging studies of speech motor control; models of speech production; unique behavioural studies of developmental, acquired, or degenerative speech disorders; studies examining the relationship between motor speech and language; and genetic studies affecting speech in humans.
This Topic will help us elucidate whether the rapid advances in Neurosciences and Genetic techniques in the last decades have made a significant change in how we perceive the neural basis of speech production.

1. Corballis MC. Language as gesture. Hum Mov Sci. 2009 Oct;28(5):556-65.
2. Weismer G. Philosophy of research in motor speech disorders. Clin Linguist
Phon. 2006 Jul;20(5):315-49.


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