Authors: Tasko SM, McClean MD, Runyan CM
Title: Speech Motor Correlates of Treatment-Related Changes in Stuttering Severity and Speech Naturalness
Source: Journal of Communication Disorders 2007 40(1): 42-65
Year: 2007
Research Design: Case Series

Participants of stuttering treatment programs provide an opportunity to evaluate persons who stutter as they demonstrate varying levels of fluency. Identifying physiologic correlates of altered fluency levels may lead to insights about mechanisms of speech disfluency. This study examined respiratory, orofacial kinematic and acoustic measures in 35 persons who stutter prior to and as they were completing a 1-month intensive stuttering treatment program. Participants showed a marked reduction in stuttering severity as they completed the treatment program. Coincident with reduced stuttering severity, participants increased the amplitude and duration of speech breaths, reduced the rate of lung volume change during inspiration, reduced the amplitude and speed of lip movements early in the test utterance, increased lip and jaw movement durations, and reduced syllable rate. A multiple regression model that included two respiratory measures and one orofacial kinematic measure accounted for 62% of the variance in changes in stuttering severity. Finally, there was a weak but significant tendency for speech of participants with the largest reductions in stuttering severity to be rated as more unnatural as they completed the treatment program. Learning outcomes: As a result of this activity, the reader will be able to (1) outline the rationale for studying speech motor correlates of treatment-related variations in fluency levels; (2) identify those speech motor behaviors that are associated with reduced stuttering severity; and (3) recognize possible reasons for the associations between speech motor behavior and stuttering severity.

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