Speech motor planning in the context of phonetically similar words: Evidence from apraxia of speech and aphasia

Marja Liisa Mailend, Edwin Maas, Pélagie M. Beeson, Brad H. Story, Kenneth I. Forster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to test two competing hypotheses about the nature of the impairment in apraxia of speech (AOS). The Reduced Buffer Capacity Hypothesis argues that people with AOS can hold only one syllable at a time in the speech motor planning buffer. The Program Retrieval Deficit Hypothesis, states that people with AOS have difficulty accessing the intended motor program in the context where several motor programs are activated simultaneously. The participants included eight speakers with AOS, most of whom also had aphasia, nine speakers with aphasia without AOS, and 25 age-matched control speakers. The experimental paradigm prompted single word production following three types of primes. In most trials, prime and target were the same (e.g., bill-bill). On some trials, the initial consonant differed in one phonetic feature (e.g., bill-dill; Similar) or in all phonetic features (fill-bill; Different). The dependent measures were accuracy and reaction time. The results revealed a switch cost – longer reaction times in trials where the prime and target differed compared to trials where they were the same words – in all groups; however, the switch cost was significantly larger in the AOS group compared to the other two groups. These findings are in line with the prediction of the Program Retrieval Deficit Hypothesis and suggest that speakers with AOS have difficulty with selecting one program over another when several programs compete for selection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)171-184
Number of pages14
StatePublished - Apr 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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