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J Fluency Disord. 2010 Sep;35(3):246-79. doi: 10.1016/j.jfludis.2010.05.002. Epub 2010 May 20.

Overreliance on auditory feedback may lead to sound/syllable repetitions: simulations of stuttering and fluency-inducing conditions with a neural model of speech production.

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Department of Cognitive and Neural Systems, Boston University, Boston, MA 02215, USA.


This paper investigates the hypothesis that stuttering may result in part from impaired readout of feedforward control of speech, which forces persons who stutter (PWS) to produce speech with a motor strategy that is weighted too much toward auditory feedback control. Over-reliance on feedback control leads to production errors which if they grow large enough, can cause the motor system to "reset" and repeat the current syllable. This hypothesis is investigated using computer simulations of a "neurally impaired" version of the DIVA model, a neural network model of speech acquisition and production. The model's outputs are compared to published acoustic data from PWS' fluent speech, and to combined acoustic and articulatory movement data collected from the dysfluent speech of one PWS. The simulations mimic the errors observed in the PWS subject's speech, as well as the repairs of these errors. Additional simulations were able to account for enhancements of fluency gained by slowed/prolonged speech and masking noise. Together these results support the hypothesis that many dysfluencies in stuttering are due to a bias away from feedforward control and toward feedback control.


The reader will be able to (a) describe the contribution of auditory feedback control and feedforward control to normal and stuttered speech production, (b) summarize the neural modeling approach to speech production and its application to stuttering, and (c) explain how the DIVA model accounts for enhancements of fluency gained by slowed/prolonged speech and masking noise.

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