Differential levels of speech and manual dysfluency in adults who stutter during simultaneous drawing and speaking tasks

Hum Mov Sci. 2009 Oct;28(5):643-54. doi: 10.1016/j.humov.2008.08.003. Epub 2008 Nov 4.


We examined the disruptive effects of stuttering on manual performance during simultaneous speaking and drawing tasks. Fifteen stuttering and fifteen non-stuttering participants drew continuous circles with a pen on a digitizer tablet under three conditions: silent (i.e., neither reading nor speaking), reading aloud, and choral reading (i.e., reading aloud in unison with another reader). We counted the frequency of stuttering events in the speaking tasks and measured pen stroke duration and pen stroke dysfluency (normalized jerk) in all three tasks. The control group was stutter-free and did not increase manual dysfluency in any condition. In the silent condition, the stuttering group performed pen movements without evidence of dysfluency, similar to the control group. However, in the reading aloud condition, the stuttering group stuttered on 12% of the syllables and showed increased manual dysfluency. In the choral reading condition stuttering was virtually eliminated (reduced by 97%), but manual dysfluency was reduced by only 47% relative to the reading aloud condition. Trials where more stuttered events were generally positively correlated with higher manual dysfluency. The results are consistent with a model in which episodes of stuttering and motor dysfluency are related to neural interconnectivity between manual and speech processes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reading
  • Reference Values
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Speech / physiology*
  • Stuttering / complications
  • Stuttering / epidemiology
  • Stuttering / physiopathology*
  • Stuttering / psychology
  • Writing*
  • Young Adult