Research Objectives

The primary objective of this laboratory is to investigate the emergence of speech motor control during infancy and early childhood. The overall aim is to provide systematic observations of the developing speech mechanism in infants and young children with and without neurogenic communication disorders (e.g., cerebral palsy). This research represents a state-of-the-art systems physiolgical approach to early identification and treatment targeting infancy and early childhood, when the neuromechanisms for vocalization and speech are in their most rapid phase of growth and maturation. Ultimately, this effort will lead to: (a) a non-invasive marker for the identification of infants at risk for communication disorders within the first year of life, (b) systematic studies examining the physiological features of speech motor control in infant and young children with and without neurogenic communication disorders, (c) early and systematic stimulation of the speech mechanism and postural control of infants and young with neurogenic communication disorders, (d) systematic assessment of central and peripheral changes in the nervous system, and (e) evaluation of functional outcomes following intensive interventions on children with neurogenic communication disorders.