Disrupted white matter in language and motor tracts in developmental stuttering
Connally EL., Ward D., Howell P., Watkins KE.
White matter tracts connecting areas involved in speech and motor control were examined using diffusion-tensor imaging in a sample of people who stutter (n=. 29) who were heterogeneous with respect to age, sex, handedness and stuttering severity. The goals were to replicate previous findings in developmental stuttering and to extend our knowledge by evaluating the relationship between white matter differences in people who stutter and factors such as age, sex, handedness and stuttering severity. We replicated previous findings that showed reduced integrity in white matter underlying ventral premotor cortex, cerebral peduncles and posterior corpus callosum in people who stutter relative to controls. Tractography analysis additionally revealed significantly reduced white matter integrity in the arcuate fasciculus bilaterally and the left corticospinal tract and significantly reduced connectivity within the left corticobulbar tract in people who stutter. Region-of-interest analyses revealed reduced white matter integrity in people who stutter in the three pairs of cerebellar peduncles that carry the afferent and efferent fibers of the cerebellum. Within the group of people who stutter, the higher the stuttering severity index, the lower the white matter integrity in the left angular gyrus, but the greater the white matter connectivity in the left corticobulbar tract. Also, in people who stutter, handedness and age predicted the integrity of the corticospinal tract and peduncles, respectively. Further studies are needed to determine which of these white matter differences relate to the neural basis of stuttering and which reflect experience-dependent plasticity. © 2013 Elsevier Inc.