Neural Systems for Sentence Processing in Stuttering The role of neurolinguistic factors in stuttering was investigated by determining whether individuals who stutter display atypical neural functions for language processing, even with no speech production demands. Event-related brain potentials (ERPs) were obtained while 9 individuals who stutter (IWS) and 9 normally fluent speakers (NS) read sentences silently. The ... Research Article
Research Article  |   August 01, 2001
Neural Systems for Sentence Processing in Stuttering
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Christine Weber-Fox, PhD
    Purdue University, Department of Audiology & Speech Sciences, Heavilon Hall, B1353, West Lafayette, IN 47907
  • Corresponding author: e-mail: weberfox@purdue.edu
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Fluency Disorders / Speech / Research Articles
Research Article   |   August 01, 2001
Neural Systems for Sentence Processing in Stuttering
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2001, Vol. 44, 814-825. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2001/064)
History: Received January 4, 2001 , Accepted April 5, 2001
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2001, Vol. 44, 814-825. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2001/064)
History: Received January 4, 2001; Accepted April 5, 2001
Web of Science® Times Cited: 28

The role of neurolinguistic factors in stuttering was investigated by determining whether individuals who stutter display atypical neural functions for language processing, even with no speech production demands. Event-related brain potentials (ERPs) were obtained while 9 individuals who stutter (IWS) and 9 normally fluent speakers (NS) read sentences silently. The ERPs were elicited by: (a) closed-class words that provide structural or grammatical information, (b) open-class words that convey referential meaning, and (c) semantic anomalies (violations in semantic expectation). In standardized tests, adult IWS displayed similar grammatical and lexical abilities in both comprehension and production tasks compared to their matched, normally fluent peers. Yet the ERPs elicited in IWS for linguistic processing tasks revealed differences in functional brain organization. The ERPs elicited in IWS were characterized by reduced negative amplitudes for closed-class words (N280), open-class words (N350), and semantic anomalies (N400) in a temporal window of approximately 200–450 ms after word onsets. The overall pattern of results indicates that alterations in processing for IWS are related to neural functions that are common to word classes and perhaps involve shared, underlying processes for lexical access.

Acknowledgments
Thanks to Bill Murphy for his assessment of stuttering severity for the participants in this study and for his help with recruitment of participants. Thanks also to Margaret Maroney for her help in data management and analysis. Portions of this study were previously presented at the Cognitive Neuroscience Society Conference (Weber-Fox, 2000). This work was funded by grants NIH 5 T32 DC00030-09, NIH 5 RO1 DC02527, and NIH 2 RO1 DC00559.
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