Auditory-motor adaptation is reduced in adults who stutter but not in children who stutter

Dev Sci. 2018 Mar;21(2):10.1111/desc.12521. doi: 10.1111/desc.12521. Epub 2017 Mar 2.


Previous studies have shown that adults who stutter produce smaller corrective motor responses to compensate for unexpected auditory perturbations in comparison to adults who do not stutter, suggesting that stuttering may be associated with deficits in integration of auditory feedback for online speech monitoring. In this study, we examined whether stuttering is also associated with deficiencies in integrating and using discrepancies between expected and received auditory feedback to adaptively update motor programs for accurate speech production. Using a sensorimotor adaptation paradigm, we measured adaptive speech responses to auditory formant frequency perturbations in adults and children who stutter and their matched nonstuttering controls. We found that the magnitude of the speech adaptive response for children who stutter did not differ from that of fluent children. However, the adaptation magnitude of adults who stutter in response to auditory perturbation was significantly smaller than the adaptation magnitude of adults who do not stutter. Together these results indicate that stuttering is associated with deficits in integrating discrepancies between predicted and received auditory feedback to calibrate the speech production system in adults but not children. This auditory-motor integration deficit thus appears to be a compensatory effect that develops over years of stuttering.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Auditory Perception
  • Child
  • Feedback, Sensory / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Learning
  • Male
  • Speech / physiology
  • Stuttering / etiology
  • Stuttering / physiopathology*
  • Young Adult