Brain development in children who stutter

Lisa Wilder

A new study by a University of Alberta researcher shows that children who stutter have less grey matter in key regions of the brain responsible for speech production than children who do not stutter. See more at University of Alberta news.

Deryk Beal, ISTAR Executive Director

The primary researcher is Deryk Beal, ISTAR’s executive director. Previous research has used MRI scans to look at structural differences between the brains of adults who stutter and those who do not. The problem with that approach is the scans come years after the onset of stuttering, typically between the ages of two and five years, Beal said. “You can never be quite sure whether the differences in brain structure or function you’re looking at were the result of a lifetime of coping with a speech disorder or whether those brain differences were there from the beginning,” explained Beal, a speech-language pathologist.


Results showed that the inferior frontal gyrus region of the brain develops abnormally in children who stutter. This is important because that part of the brain (also known as Broca's Brain region) is thought to control articulatory coding—taking information our brain understands about language and sounds and coding it into speech movements.

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