2003 IFA Congress: Montreal, Canada

A Sensorimotor Perspective on Stuttering: Insights from the Neuroscience of Motor Control

Ludo Max1,4, Vincent L. Gracco2,4, Frank H. Guenther3.5, Satrajit S. Ghosh3, and Marie E. Wallace1,4
1University of Connecticut, Department of Communication Sciences, 850 Bolton Road Unit 1085, Storrs, CT 06269-1085, USA
2McGill University, School of Communication Sciences and Disorders, 1266 Pine Avenue West, Montreal, Quebec, H3G 1A8, Canada
3Boston University, Department of Cognitive and Neural Systems, 677 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02215, USA
4Haskins Laboratories, 270 Crown Street, New Haven, CT 06511-6695, USA
5Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Research Laboratory of Electronics 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 021139-4307, USA


We present a theoretical perspective on stuttering based on a wide range of empirical data regarding the neuroscience of motor control. This perspective relies heavily on recent insights into models of motor control incorporating (a) feedforward and feedback. control schemes, (b) the formation, consolidation, and updating of inverse and forward internal models of effector system dynamics, and (c) cortical and subcortical activation patterns during speech and nonspeech motor tasks. We suggest that stuttering may result either when producing speech with inaccurate internal models or with a motor strategy that is weighted too much toward feedback control. The overall perspective can account not only for the primary characteristics of the disorder but also for several of the associated phenomena (e. g., age of onset, fluency enhancing conditions, treatment effects). Furthermore, this sensorimotor perspective on stuttering is consistent with computer simulations implemented in the DIVA model -a neural network model of the central control of speech movements.
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