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Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2003 Sep;27(4):339-47.

Choral speech: the amelioration of stuttering via imitation and the mirror neuronal system.

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Stuttering Research Lab, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, East Carolina University, Oglesby Drive, Greenville, NC 27858-4353, USA.


'Choral' speech or speaking in unison is an undeniable phenomenon that immediately induces fluent and natural sounding speech in almost all people who stutter, regardless of linguistic content, situation or audience size. We propose that the choral speech effect is a form direct imitation, a primitive and innate human capacity that is possibly mediated at the neuronal level by 'mirror neurons'. Mirror systems link observations and actions are considered by many to be a neuronal substrate for gestural language acquisition, as well as forming the basis for many learned behaviors, thus possibly playing a vital role in ensuring survival during infancy. The engagement of these systems allows gestural sequences, including speech, to be fluently replicated. Choral speech and its permutations use the capacity for fluent imitation in people who stutter via a 'loose' gestural matching system in which gestures in the external signal possessing cues found in the intended utterance can serve as stuttering inhibitors. We suggest implementing these innate gestural mirrors to provide immediate and effective amelioration for stuttering.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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