Articulatory gestures are individually selected in production.
Most models of speech planning and production incorporate a selection mechanism, whereby units are activated in parallel and chosen for execution sequentially. The lowest level units which can be selected are assumed to be segments, i.e. consonants and vowels. The features or articulatory gestures affiliated with segments are presumed to be automatically selected as a consequence of segmental selection. An alternative possibility is that articulatory gestures themselves are subject to a selection process; this predicts that there can be circumstances in which gestures affiliated with the same segment fail to co-occur. We conducted a stop-signal task in which subjects produced /pa/- or /ka/-initial monosyllables and disyllables in response to a go-signal; on 50% of trials subjects halted production as quickly as possible when given a stop-signal within ±300 ms of the go-signal. Articulatory kinematics were recorded using a speech magnetometer. We found that vowel-affiliated gestures of glottal adduction, tongue body lowering, and bilabial opening did not necessarily co-occur in the context of halting speech. This finding indicates that gestures are selected individually, rather than as an automatic consequence of segmental selection.