A deficiency in sensorimotor integration in a person who stutters may be a factor in the pathophysiology of developmental stuttering. To test oral sensorimotor function in adults who stutter, we used a task that requires the coordination of a jaw-opening movement with phonation onset. The task was adapted from previous limb coordination studies, which show that movement coordination depends on intact proprioception. We hypothesized that adult stutterers would show deficient jaw-phonatory coordination relative to control participants. The task required initiation of phonation as a jaw-opening movement passed through a narrow spatial target. Target amplitude and jaw movement speed were varied. The stuttering group showed significantly higher movement error and spatial variability in jaw-phonatory coordination compared to the control group, but group differences in movement velocity or duration were not found. The aberrant jaw-phonatory coordination of the stuttering participants suggests that stuttering is associated with an oral proprioceptive limitation, although, the findings are also consistent with a motor control deficit. Learning outcomes: As a result of this activity, reader will (1) learn about a hypothesis and evidence supporting the view that a sensorimotor deficit contributes to chronic developmental stuttering and (2) will obtain information about the role of proprioception in multi-articulatory coordination and how it can be tested using an oral-phonatory coordination task.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors wish to acknowledge Sophie Lafaille and Dr. Christopher Dromey for their assistance in data collection and analysis. This study was supported by awards from the Ontario Graduate Scholarship in Science and Technology and Toronto Rehabilitation Institute held by the first author and a grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada held by the second author.
Copyright 2008 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.