After an enjoyable and relaxing Christmas break, on Thursday I started back at school. Today I read an article on the website ‘science daily’ about stuttering and the results of a new investigation into what produces a stutter. A cure may be looming not far in the future!
Speech is produced in a part of the brain named Broca’s area. It is located near the centre of the brain, situated more towards the back quarter of humans’ brains, as shown in the image above. Previously it was known that under activity in the Broca’s area was linked to stuttering but the results of a new study, conducted in Los Angeles’ Children’s Hospital, have shown that a reduced blood flow to the Broca’s area can influence or even cause a stutter in children.
Furthermore, abnormality in the posterior language loop (which makes sense of what we hear and turns it into something comprehendible) is also linked to blood flow in the brain and can cause severe stuttering. Damage to the loop which connects the posterior and frontal language loops determines the severity of the stutter experienced.
Dr Peterson, who is a professor at the Kirk school of Medicine at the University of Southern California has also conducted previous studies including one using proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy which demonstrated that brain circuits in those who had stutters were connected differently for speech production. He believes that disturbances in these circuits were the root cause of stutters and also stated that ‘it (this study) provides scientists with a completely different view of the brain’ as no studies have ever been conducted using this method of proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy in patients with a stutter before.
It seems that the more of these circuits that are affected, the worse the stutter in the child or adult. The results were ‘quite striking’ as they showed a clear inverse correlation between the severity of the stutter and the blood flow to the Broca’s area of the brain.
Potentially this could lead to an immenent cure for stuttering without the need for stressful and self esteem lowering speech therapy. If there were a way to reboot these circuits, so to speak, those affected by a stutter may be immediately cured. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?
Keep your eyes peeled for my next post,