Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)

Degree Granting Department

Communication Sciences and Disorders

Major Professor

Stefan Frisch, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Nathan Maxfield, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

Committee Member

Ruth Bahr, Ph.D., CCC-SLP


Anticipatory coarticulation, Speech motor control, Speech stability, Stuttering, Token-to-token variability, Ultrasound


This study uses ultrasound to image onset velar stop consonant articulation in words. By examining tongue body placement, the extent of velar closure variation across vowel contexts provides for the measurement of anticipatory coarticulation while productions within the same vowel context provide measurement of extent of token-to-token variation. Articulate Assistant Advanced 2.0 software was used to semi-automatically generate midsagittal tongue contours at the initial point of maximum velar closure and was used to fit each contour to a curved spline. Patterns of lingual coarticulation and measures of speech motor stability, based on curve-to-curve distance (Zharkova, Hewlett, & Hardcastle, 2011), are investigated to compare the speech of typically fluent speakers to the speech of people who stutter. Anticipatory coarticulation can be interpreted as a quantitative measure indicating the maturity of the speech motor system and its planning abilities. Token-to-token variability is examined from multiple velar vowel productions within the same vowel context, describing the accuracy of control, or stability, of velar closure gestures. Measures for both speaking groups are examined across the lifespan at stages during speech development, maturation, and aging. Results indicate an overall age effect, interpreted as refinement, with increased speech stability and progressively more segmental (less coarticulated) productions across the lifespan. A tendency toward decreased stability and more coarticulated speech was found for younger people who stutter, but this difference was small and absent among older adults. Outcomes of this study suggest the articulatory maturation trajectories of people who stutter may be delayed, but overall maturation of the speech mechanism is evident by older adulthood for typically fluent speakers and those who stutter. Applications to intervention are discussed in closing.