Volume 125, Issue 3, March 2009
Index of content:
- SPEECH PRODUCTION 
125(2009); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.3075589View Description Hide Description
The growth of the vocal tract(VT) is known to be non-uniform insofar as there are regional differences in anatomic maturation. This study presents quantitative anatomic data on the growth of the oral and pharyngeal portions of the VT from 605 imaging studies for individuals between birth and 19 years. The oral (horizontal) portion of the VT was segmented into lip-thickness, anterior-cavity-length, oropharyngeal-width, and VT-oral, and the pharyngeal (vertical) portion of the VT into posterior-cavity-length, and nasopharyngeal-length. The data were analyzed to determine growth trend, growth rate, and growth type (neural or somatic). Findings indicate differences in the growth trend of segments/variables analyzed, with significant sex differences for all variables except anterior-cavity-length. While the growth trend of some variables displays prepubertal sex differences at specific age ranges, the importance of such localized differences appears to be masked by overall growth rate differences between males and females. Finally, assessment of growth curve type indicates that most VT structures follow a combined/hybrid (somatic and neural) growth curve with structures in the vertical plane having a predominantly somatic growth pattern. These data on the non-uniform growth of the vocal tract reveal anatomic differences that contribute to documented acoustic differences in prepubertal speech production.