Article  |   February 2012
Reduced Speech Perceptual Acuity for Stop Consonants in Individuals Who Stutter
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Nicole E. Neef
    Department of Clinical Neurophysiology, Georg August University, Göttingen, Germany
  • Martin Sommer
    Department of Clinical Neurophysiology, Georg August University, Göttingen, Germany
  • Andreas Neef
    Department of Clinical Neurophysiology, Georg August University, Göttingen, Germany
  • Walter Paulus
    Department of Clinical Neurophysiology, Georg August University, Göttingen, Germany
  • Alexander Wolff von Gudenberg
    Institute of the Kassel Stuttering Therapy, Bad Emstal, Germany
  • Kristina Jung
    Institute of the Kassel Stuttering Therapy, Bad Emstal, Germany
  • Torsten Wüstenberg
    Charité Universitaetsmedizin, Berlin, Germany
  • Correspondence to Nicole Neef: nneef@gwdg.de
  • Editor: Janna Oetting
    Editor: Janna Oetting×
  • Associate Editor: Pascal van Lieshout
    Associate Editor: Pascal van Lieshout×
  • © 2012 American Speech-Language-Hearing AssociationAmerican Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Fluency Disorders / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Speech
Article   |   February 2012
Reduced Speech Perceptual Acuity for Stop Consonants in Individuals Who Stutter
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2012, Vol. 55, 276-289. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2011/10-0224)
History: Received August 13, 2010 , Revised December 20, 2010 , Accepted June 11, 2011
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2012, Vol. 55, 276-289. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2011/10-0224)
History: Received August 13, 2010; Revised December 20, 2010; Accepted June 11, 2011
Web of Science® Times Cited: 2

Purpose: In individuals who stutter (IWS), speech fluency can be enhanced by altered auditory feedback, although it has adverse effects in control speakers. This indicates abnormalities in the auditory feedback loop in stuttering. Current motor control theories on stuttering propose an impaired processing of internal forward models that might be related to a blurred auditory-to-motor translation. Although speech sound perception is an essential skill to form internal models, perceptual acuity has not been studied in IWS so far. The authors tested the stability of phoneme percepts by analyzing participants' ability to identify voiced and voiceless stop consonants.

Method: Two syllable continua were generated by systematic modification of the voice onset time. The authors determined speech perceptual acuity by means of discriminatory power in 25 IWS and 24 matched control participants by determining the phoneme boundaries and by quantifying the interval of voice onset times for which phonemes were perceived ambiguously.

Results: In IWS, discriminatory performance was weaker and less stable over time when compared with control participants. In addition, phoneme boundaries were located at longer voice onset times in IWS.

Conclusion: Persistent developmental stuttering is associated with less reliable phonological percepts, supporting current theories regarding the sensory–motor interaction in human speech.

Acknowledgments
This work was supported by the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft, Walter und Ilse Rose Stiftung, the Goettingen Graduate School for Neurosciences and Molecular Biosciences, the German Ministry of Health(Grants BMBF 01GQ0811 and 01GQ0810), and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (Grant SO 429/2-2). For his support concerning statistics, we thank Reinhard Hilgers from the Department of Medical Statistics, Georg-August University, Göttingen, Germany. We also thank Veronika Gutmann for her help in participant recruitment and testing in the pilot study.
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