Stutterers have abnormal brain development

accreditation
Shutterstock
Children who stutter have less grey 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, a new Canadian study shows.

Researchers evaluated 28 children between the ages of five and 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 speech movements.

Study author Deryk Beal, executive director of the Institute for Stuttering Treatment and Research at the University of Alberta, said: "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 hypothesise that it's a speech-motor-control problem."

Previous research examined structural differences between the brains of adults who stutter and those who do not. The problem with that approach was that the brain scans come years after the onset of stuttering, typically between the ages of two and five, Beal said.

"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 were a first step toward testing to see how the amount of gray matter in the brain was influenced by treatment for stuttering and for understanding motor-sequence learning differences between children who stutter and those who don't.

"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.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about stuttering.

Photo of embarrassed child from Shutterstock

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
The ANC's leadership race is heating up. Who do you think will be elected party president at Nasrec in December?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has got it in the bag
6% - 206 votes
I foresee a second term for Cyril Ramaphosa
81% - 2653 votes
Don’t discount a Zweli Mkhize win
12% - 401 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
18.00
-0.9%
Rand - Pound
19.92
-2.6%
Rand - Euro
17.62
-1.4%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.68
-0.4%
Rand - Yen
0.12
-0.7%
Gold
1,660.10
+0.0%
Silver
18.75
-0.8%
Palladium
2,222.00
+3.3%
Platinum
868.00
+0.2%
Brent Crude
89.32
+3.4%
Top 40
56,921
-0.9%
All Share
63,264
-0.9%
Resource 10
59,793
+3.3%
Industrial 25
76,769
-2.2%
Financial 15
13,707
-2.8%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE