Speech planning and execution in children who stutter: Preliminary findings from a fNIRS investigation

Eric Jackson, Sobanawartiny Wijeakumar, Deryk Beal, Bryan Brown, Patricia Zebrowski, John Spencer

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Few studies have investigated the neural mechanisms underlying speech production in children who stutter (CWS), despite the critical importance of understanding these mechanisms closer to the time of stuttering onset. The relative contributions of speech planning and execution in CWS therefore are also unknown. Using functional near-infrared spectroscopy, the current study investigated neural mechanisms of planning and execution in a small sample of 9–12 year-old CWS and controls (N = 12) by implementing two tasks that manipulated speech planning and execution loads. Planning was associated with atypical activation in bilateral inferior frontal gyrus and right supramarginal gyrus. Execution was associated with atypical activation in bilateral precentral gyrus and inferior frontal gyrus, as well as right supramarginal gyrus and superior temporal gyrus. The CWS exhibited some activation patterns that were similar to the adults who stutter (AWS) as reported in our previous study: atypical planning in frontal areas including left inferior frontal gyrus and atypical execution in fronto-temporo-parietal regions including left precentral gyrus, and right inferior frontal, superior temporal, and supramarginal gyri. However, differences also emerged. Whereas CWS and AWS both appear to exhibit atypical activation in right inferior and supramarginal gyri during execution, only CWS appear to exhibit this same pattern during planning. In addition, the CWS appear to exhibit atypical activation in left inferior frontal and right precentral gyri related to execution, whereas AWS do not. These preliminary results are discussed in the context of possible impairments in sensorimotor integration and inhibitory control for CWS.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-42
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Clinical Neuroscience
Early online date28 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021

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