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      Morphological brain differences between adult stutterers and non-stutterers


      , 1 , 1 , 2

      BMC Neurology

      BioMed Central

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          The neurophysiological and neuroanatomical foundations of persistent developmental stuttering (PDS) are still a matter of dispute. A main argument is that stutterers show atypical anatomical asymmetries of speech-relevant brain areas, which possibly affect speech fluency. The major aim of this study was to determine whether adults with PDS have anomalous anatomy in cortical speech-language areas.


          Adults with PDS (n = 10) and controls (n = 10) matched for age, sex, hand preference, and education were studied using high-resolution MRI scans. Using a new variant of the voxel-based morphometry technique (augmented VBM) the brains of stutterers and non-stutterers were compared with respect to white matter (WM) and grey matter (GM) differences.


          We found increased WM volumes in a right-hemispheric network comprising the superior temporal gyrus (including the planum temporale), the inferior frontal gyrus (including the pars triangularis), the precentral gyrus in the vicinity of the face and mouth representation, and the anterior middle frontal gyrus. In addition, we detected a leftward WM asymmetry in the auditory cortex in non-stutterers, while stutterers showed symmetric WM volumes.


          These results provide strong evidence that adults with PDS have anomalous anatomy not only in perisylvian speech and language areas but also in prefrontal and sensorimotor areas. Whether this atypical asymmetry of WM is the cause or the consequence of stuttering is still an unanswered question.

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          Most cited references 63

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          A classification of hand preference by association analysis.

           M Annett (1970)
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            The musician's brain as a model of neuroplasticity.

            Studies of experience-driven neuroplasticity at the behavioural, ensemble, cellular and molecular levels have shown that the structure and significance of the eliciting stimulus can determine the neural changes that result. Studying such effects in humans is difficult, but professional musicians represent an ideal model in which to investigate plastic changes in the human brain. There are two advantages to studying plasticity in musicians: the complexity of the eliciting stimulus music and the extent of their exposure to this stimulus. Here, we focus on the functional and anatomical differences that have been detected in musicians by modern neuroimaging methods.
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              Structure and function of auditory cortex: music and speech.

              We examine the evidence that speech and musical sounds exploit different acoustic cues: speech is highly dependent on rapidly changing broadband sounds, whereas tonal patterns tend to be slower, although small and precise changes in frequency are important. We argue that the auditory cortices in the two hemispheres are relatively specialized, such that temporal resolution is better in left auditory cortical areas and spectral resolution is better in right auditory cortical areas. We propose that cortical asymmetries might have developed as a general solution to the need to optimize processing of the acoustic environment in both temporal and frequency domains.

                Author and article information

                BMC Neurol
                BMC Neurology
                BioMed Central (London )
                10 December 2004
                : 4
                : 23
                [1 ]Institute of Psychology, Department Neuropsychology, University Zurich, Switzerland
                [2 ]Department of Neurology, Johann-Wolfgang Goethe University Frankfurt am Main, Germany
                Copyright © 2004 Jäncke et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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