Cerebral Specialization for Speech Production in Persons with Down Syndrome Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • The study of cerebral specialization in persons with Down syndrome (DS) has revealed an anomalous pattern of organization. Specifically, dichotic listening studies (e.g., Elliott & Weeks, 1993) have suggested a left ear/right hemisphere dominance for speech perception for persons with DS. In the current investigation, the cerebral dominance for speech production was examined using the mouth asymmetry technique. In right-handed, nonhandicapped subjects, mouth asymmetry methodology has shown that during speech, the right side of the mouth opens sooner and to a larger degree then the left side (Graves, Goodglass, & Landis, 1982). The phenomenon of right mouth asymmetry (RMA) is believed to reflect the direct access that the musculature on the right side of the face has to the left hemisphere's speech production systems. This direct access may facilitate the transfer of innervatory patterns to the muscles on the right side of the face. In the present study, the lateralization for speech production was investigated in 10 right-handed participants with DS and 10 nonhandicapped subjects. A RMA at the initiation and end of speech production occurred for subjects in both groups. Surprisingly, the degree of asymmetry between groups did not differ, suggesting that the lateralization of speech production is similar for persons with and persons without DS. These results support the biological dissociation model (Elliott, Weeks, & Elliott, 1987), which holds that persons with DS display a unique dissociation between speech perception (right hemisphere) and speech production (left hemisphere).

publication date

  • September 1999