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Motor Planning vs. Motor Programming

Edwin Maas, Ph.D.

February 27, 2012

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Question

What is the differences between what a motor planning and a motor programming disorder? 

Answer

The difference between motor planning and motor programming is one of anatomic structure - of whole articulator at the planning level and muscles at the motor programming level.  The motor plan specifies the movement goals with respect to the articulators; the motor program specifies which muscles will be used in moving the relevant articulators specified in the motor plan. So in order to make the /s/ sound, for example, you have to move your tongue up to the alveolar ridge.  It's a tongue-tip movement where contact is made between one articulator, the front of the tongue, and another articulator, the alveolar ridge.  So, planning the movement at that level is motor planning. But specifying which particular muscles are going to make the tongue move to that location is done at the speech motor programming level. There is what is called motor equivalence, which means that you can achieve the same movement goal with potentially infinite number of muscle contractions.  Once you know what the goal is at the anatomic structure level, then you need to figure out how to make it more concrete and specific in terms of the muscles involved. This distinction between planning and programming comes largely from Anita van der Merwe’s model, which is explained in detail in the first chapter of McNeil’s edited book entitled “Clinical Management of Sensorimotor Speech Disorders” (first edition 1997, second edition 2009).

Edwin Maas, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences at the University of Arizona. After receiving his Masters degree in Neurolinguistics from the University of Groningen (Netherlands) and working as a clinical linguist in an outpatient rehabilitation setting, he earned a doctoral degree in Language and Communicative Disorders at San Diego State University and the University of California, San Diego. His research focuses both on the basic science of speech production and on clinical research relevant to neurogenic and childhood speech and language disorders, including treatment research. 


edwin maas

Edwin Maas, Ph.D.

 

Edwin Maas, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences at the University of Arizona. After receiving his Masters degree in Neurolinguistics from the University of Groningen (Netherlands) and working as a clinical linguist in an outpatient rehabilitation setting, he earned a doctoral degree in Language and Communicative Disorders at San Diego State University and the University of California, San Diego. His dissertation focused on the nature of speech motor programming deficits in apraxia of speech. In addition, he has conducted a number of treatment studies for apraxia of speech. After his doctoral studies, he completed postdoctoral training at Boston University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research focuses both on the basic science of speech production and on clinical research relevant to neurogenic and childhood speech and language disorders, including treatment research. His research has been funded by NIH-NIDCD, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation, and the Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association of North America. He currently serves on the Academy of Neurologic Communication Disorders and Sciences committee on Practice Guidelines for Treatment for Acquired Apraxia of Speech.


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