Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation

Spring 5-7-2010

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders


Manual and vocal actions in humans are coupled throughout the lifespan, from the anticipatory opening of the mouth as the hand moves to meet it in natal development to the more sophisticated co-expressive gesture of the proficient communicator (Iverson & Thelen, 1999). By adulthood, the systems supporting both speech and manual actions of gesture are so wholly integrated that the expression of both actions together is seamless and effortless (Gentilucci & Nicoladis, 2008). Both systems, though controlled by different muscles moving different articulators, exhibit parallels in their development and organization (Meier & Willerman, 1995). The manual control supporting gesture emerges earlier than the vocal control supporting speech (Ejiri & Masataka, 2001), and the actions of the hands and arms may encourage organization and patterns of vocal control (Iverson & Fagan, 2004). No research has yet shown the nature of this manual development in the context of vocal development. This study investigates the emergence and practice of manual configurations during vocal and linguistic development in eight typically developing infants. By observing the manual system only during vocal actions, while the participants progress through babble but before referential word use, this study demonstrates the nature of the development between these systems before being structured by language. These results illustrate the unique coupling of the vocal and motor systems and demonstrate the existence of manual configurations analogous to the practiced vocal patterns that support the development of language.



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