The present study examined the divided attention effects of three non-speech tasks on concurrent speech motor performance. These tasks targeted linguistic, cognitive, and manual motor activity. Participants included 60 healthy adults separated into three different age groups of twenty participants each: college-age (20s), middle-aged (40s), and older adults (60s). Each participant completed a speech task once in isolation and once concurrently with each of the three non-speech tasks: a semantic decision task, a quantitative comparison task, and a manual motor task. The non-speech tasks were also performed in isolation. The speech task involved repeating a target phrase each time a beep sounded, for a total of fourteen repetitions. Dependent measures for speech were derived from lip kinematic recordings from a head-mounted strain gauge system. Dependent measures for the other tasks included timed response counts and accuracy rates. Results indicated significant divided attention effects, impacting speech and nonspeech measures in the linguistic and cognitive conditions, and impacting speech measures in the manual motor condition. A significant age effect for utterance duration was also found, as well as a divided attention interaction with age for cognitive task accuracy. The results add to what is known about bidirectional interference between speech and other concurrent tasks, as well as age effects on speech motor control.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Communication Disorders



Date Submitted


Document Type





age, bidirectional interference, divided attention, speech kinematics, older adults, speech motor control, young adults