Stutterers Show Different Brain Development, Study Says10/18/13
FRIDAY, Oct. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Children who stutter have
less gray matter in regions of the brain responsible for speech
than those who don't stutter, a finding that could lead to improved
treatments for the condition, according to a new Canadian
Researchers evaluated 28 children, aged 5 to 12, who underwent
MRI brain scans. Half of the children had been diagnosed with
stuttering, and the others acted as a control group.
The brain scans revealed that the children who stuttered had
abnormal development of the inferior frontal gyrus region of the
brain. It's believed that this region takes information that the
brain understands about language and sounds and codes it into
"If you think about the characteristics of stuttering -- repetitions of the first sounds or syllables in a word, prolongation of sounds in a word -- it's easy to hypothesize that it's a speech-motor-control problem," study author Deryk Beal, executive director of the Institute for Stuttering Treatment and Research at the University of Alberta, said in a university news release.
The study was published recently in the journal
Previous research examined structural differences between the
brains of adults who stutter and those who do not. The problem with
that approach is the brain scans come years after the onset of
stuttering, typically between the ages of 2 and 5 years, Beal
"You can never be quite sure whether the differences in brain structure or function you're looking at were the result of a lifetime of coping with a speech disorder or whether those brain differences were there from the beginning," Beal explained.
He said the results of his study are a first step toward testing
to see how the amount of gray matter in the brain is influenced by
treatment for stuttering and for understanding motor-sequence
learning differences between children who stutter and those who
"The more we know about motor learning in these kids, the more we can adjust our treatment -- deliver it in a shorter period of time, deliver it more effectively," Beal said.
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