Neural control of the lips differs for young and older adults following a perturbation

Ana Carolina De Miranda Marzullo, Osmar Pinto Neto, Kirrie J. Ballard, Donald A. Robin, Lauren Chaitow, Evangelos A. Christou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Aging impairs the control of many skilled movements including speech. The purpose of this paper was to investigate whether young and older adults adapt to lower lip perturbations during speech differently. Twenty men (10 young, 26 ± 3 years of age; 10 older, 60 ± 9 years of age) were requested to repeat the word ("papa") 300 times. In 15% of the trials, the subjects experienced a mechanical perturbation on the lower lip. Displacement and neural activation (EMG) of the upper and lower lips were evaluated. Perturbations to the lower lip caused a greater increase in the maximum displacement of the lower lip for older adults compared with young adults (34.7 ± 19% vs. 13.4 ± 17%; P = 0.017). Furthermore, young adults exhibited significantly greater 30-100 Hz normalized EMG power for the lower lip compared to the upper lip (P < 0.005). In young adults, changes from normal to perturbed trials in the 30-50 Hz frequency band of the EMG were negatively correlated to the changes from normal to perturbed trials in the lower lip maximum displacement (R 2 = 0.48; P = 0.025). It is concluded that young adults adapt better to lower lip perturbations compared with older adults and that the associated neural activation strategy of the involved muscle is different for the two age groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)319-327
Number of pages9
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 2010


  • Cortical drive
  • EMG
  • Speech
  • Wavelet analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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