Speech Motor Changes Coincident with Stuttering Treatment

S Tasko, M McClean, C Runyan


Many “motor-based” treatments for stuttering are known to provide reductions in speech disfluency.  Relatively few studies have evaluated how treatment participation influences measures of speech motor output.  Describing speech motor changes associated with treatment-related behavioral improvement may aid in refining treatment procedures and lead to insights about possible mechanisms of disfluency.  The goal of this study is to evaluate the changes in speech motor output that are coincident with participation in an intensive, one-month, motor-based stuttering treatment program.  Thirty-five persons who stutter were enrolled in the study.  Each participant underwent extensive behavioral and physiologic assessment before and after attending the treatment program.  Measures of behavioral improvement as well as those reflecting respiratory and orofacial motor behavior were compared for the pre- and post-treatment conditions.  Following treatment, the subject group exhibited increased duration of speech-related respiratory, acoustic and orofacial kinematic events, and reduced peak speeds and distances of orofacial movement.  These speech motor changes were not related to behavioral improvement in a straightforward manner.  Additional analyses will be presented that relate kinematic to behavioral measures such as pre-treatment severity, degree of improvement, and post-treatment speech naturalness.