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Brain Lang. 2008 Feb;104(2):190-9. Epub 2007 May 24.

Severity of dysfluency correlates with basal ganglia activity in persistent developmental stuttering.

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Département d'Etudes Cognitives, Inserm U742 Paris-6, Ecole Normale Supérieure, 29 rue d'Ulm, 75005 Paris, France.


Previous studies suggest that anatomical anomalies [Foundas, A. L., Bollich, A. M., Corey, D. M., Hurley, M., & Heilman, K. M. (2001). Anomalous anatomy of speech-language areas in adults with persistent developmental stuttering. Neurology, 57, 207-215; Foundas, A. L., Corey, D. M., Angeles, V., Bollich, A. M., Crabtree-Hartman, E., & Heilman, K. M. (2003). Atypical cerebral laterality in adults with persistent developmental stuttering. Neurology, 61, 1378-1385; Foundas, A. L., Bollich, A. M., Feldman, J., Corey, D. M., Hurley, M., & Lemen, L. C. et al., (2004). Aberrant auditory processing and atypical planum temporale in developmental stuttering. Neurology, 63, 1640-1646; Jancke, L., Hanggi, J., & Steinmetz, H. (2004). Morphological brain differences between adult stutterers and non-stutterers. BMC Neurology, 4, 23], in particular a reduction of the white matter anisotropy underlying the left sensorimotor cortex [Sommer, M., Koch, M. A., Paulus, W., Weiller, C., & Buchel, C. (2002). Disconnection of speech-relevant brain areas in persistent developmental stuttering. Lancet, 360, 380-383] could be at the origin of persistent developmental stuttering (PDS). Because neural connections between the motor cortex and basal ganglia are implicated in speech motor functions, PDS could also be associated with a dysfunction in basal ganglia activity [Alm, P. (2004). Stuttering and the basal ganglia circuits: a critical review of possible relations. Journal of Communication Disorders, 37, 325-369]. This fMRI study reports a correlation between severity of stuttering and activity in the basal ganglia and shows that this activity is modified by fluency shaping therapy through long-term therapy effects that reflect speech production improvement. A model of dysfunction in stuttering and possible repair modes is proposed that accommodates the data presented here and observations previously made by us and by others.

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