Neural systems for language processing in early childhood may help predict eventual stuttering persistence and recovery
Event-related brain potentials (ERPs) were collected for 50 children, 17 of whom would eventually recover from stuttering (CWS-eRecovered), 10 of whom would eventually persist in stuttering (CWS-ePersisted), and 23 children who did not stutter (CWNS). Participants were matched for age, socioeconomic status, nonverbal IQ, receptive language abilities, expressive language abilities, and phonological abilities. During the experiment, children watched cartoon videos accompanied by natural speech stimuli which contained semantic anomalies. The N400 response elicited by semantic anomalies was characterized by a larger mean amplitude in CWS-ePersisted as compared to CWNS and CWS-eRecovered. CWS-ePersisted appeared to be demonstrating a less mature processing strategy for semantic anomalies. This is consistent with a dynamic systems view of stuttering which posits that certain factors contribute to persistence versus recovery in stuttering. Importantly, this difference was observed only in 6/10 CWS-ePersisted in this study. Thus, it appears that a larger N400 mean amplitude may be predictive of stuttering persistence in a majority of, but not all, children who stutter.
Weber-Fox, Purdue University.
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