Neuroimaging of the syllable repetition task in children with residual speech sound disorder

Caroline Spencer, Jennifer Vannest, Edwin Maas, Jonathan L. Preston, Erin Redle, Thomas Maloney, Suzanne Boyce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Purpose: This study investigated phonological and speech motor neural networks in children with residual speech sound disorder (RSSD) during an overt Syllable Repetition Task (SRT). Method: SixteenchildrenwithRSSDwith/ɹ/ errors(6F [female]; ages 8;0–12;6 [years;months]) and 16 children with typically developing speech (TD; 8F; ages 8;5–13;7) completed a functional magnetic resonance imaging experiment. Children performed the SRT (“SRT-Early Sounds”) with the phonemes /b, d, m, n, ɑ/ and an adapted version (“SRT-Late Sounds”) with the phonemes /ɹ, s,l,tʃ, ɑ/. We compared the functional activation and transcribed production accuracy of the RSSD and TD groups during both conditions. Expected errors were not scored as inaccurate. Results: No between-group or within-group differences in repetition accuracy were found on the SRT-Early Sounds or SRT-Late Sounds tasks at any syllable sequence length. On a first-level analysis of the tasks, the TD group showed expected patterns of activation for both the SRT-Early Sounds and SRT-Late Sounds, including activation in the left primary motor cortex, left premotor cortex, bilateral anterior cingulate, bilateral primary auditory cortex, bilateral superior temporal gyrus, and bilateral insula. The RSSD group showed similar activation when correcting for multiple comparisons. In further exploratory analyses, we observed the following subthreshold patterns: (a) On the SRT-Early Sounds, greater activation was found in the left premotor cortex for the RSSD group, while greater activation was found in the left cerebellum for the TD group; (b) on the SRT-Late Sounds, a small area of greater activation was found in the right cerebellum for the RSSD group. No within-group functional differences were observed (SRT-Early Sounds vs. SRT-Late Sounds) for either group. Conclusions: Performance was similar between groups, and likewise, we found that functional activation did not differ. Observed functional differences in previous studies may reflect differences in task performance, rather than fundamental differences in neural mechanisms for syllable repetition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2223-2233
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number6s
StatePublished - Jun 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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