There is a fundamental gap in our understanding of neural network development in young children who stutter near symptom onset, and developmental trajectories that are associated with persistence versus recovery. The type of coordinated neuronal activity that is necessary for fluent speech depends upon inter- connections within and among large-scale neural networks, and these critical connections develop during childhood. Our long-term goal is to find empirically-based, early neural markers for persistent stuttering, findings that may eventually inform the clinical diagnosis and treatment of childhood stuttering. The overall objective of the present application is to find neural network based mechanisms that are associated with persistent stuttering. Guided by data from the current project period and from a neurocomputational model of speech sequencing, our central hypothesis is that stuttering emerges and persists due to aberrant functional and structural organization within and between major brain networks, specifically those involving left cortico-basal ganglia motor circuits (?cortico-BG network?) and their interactions with other intrinsic connectivity networks (ICNs) during development. The rationale for the proposed research is that by empirically studying how maturation of neural networks of children who stutter (CWS) differ from that of their normally fluent peers, a better understanding of the complex etiology and mechanisms underlying persistent childhood stuttering should result. Guided by strong preliminary data, the central hypotheses will be tested by pursuing two specific aims: 1. Delineate and compare neurodevelopmental trajectories of the left cortico-BG network in children who stutter and typically speaking children. 2. Identify how neurodevelopmental trajectories of the left cortico-BG network and ICNs relate to both childhood stuttering as well as the risk for such stuttering to persist. The proposed work is innovative, as it will be the first series of studies designed specifically to characterize whole brain network anomalies specific to CWS, which may serve as a highly predictive neural marker for persistent stuttering during early childhood. Findings will be significant, because the expected results will elucidate, for the first time, whether major neural networks connect, organize, and mature differently in CWS and whether such differences are associated with the perpetuation of stuttering symptoms during development. Such results will have an important positive impact, by identifying neural network markers apt to predict eventual persistence versus recovery during early phases of symptom progression as well as provide developmentally- appropriate areas to consider in preventive and therapeutic interventions for childhood stuttering.

Public Health Relevance

The proposed studies address an important and under-investigated area of childhood developmental stuttering pertaining to neural network development. The results from this research are expected to have an important positive impact, by identifying neural network markers apt to predict eventual persistence versus recovery during early phases of symptom progression. This may, in turn, guide clinical practices in terms of prioritizing intervention and as well as provide developmentally-appropriate areas to consider in preventive and therapeutic interventions for childhood stuttering.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
Research Project (R01)
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Study Section
Motor Function, Speech and Rehabilitation Study Section (MFSR)
Program Officer
Shekim, Lana O
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University of Michigan Ann Arbor
Schools of Medicine
Ann Arbor
United States
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Chang, Soo-Eun; Angstadt, Michael; Chow, Ho Ming et al. (2018) Anomalous network architecture of the resting brain in children who stutter. J Fluency Disord 55:46-67
Daliri, Ayoub; Wieland, Elizabeth A; Cai, Shanqing et al. (2018) Auditory-motor adaptation is reduced in adults who stutter but not in children who stutter. Dev Sci 21:
Etchell, Andrew; Adhikari, Aditi; Weinberg, Lauren S et al. (2018) A systematic literature review of sex differences in childhood language and brain development. Neuropsychologia 114:19-31
Chow, Ho Ming; Chang, Soo-Eun (2017) White matter developmental trajectories associated with persistence and recovery of childhood stuttering. Hum Brain Mapp :
Choo, Ai Leen; Burnham, Evamarie; Hicks, Kristin et al. (2016) Dissociations among linguistic, cognitive, and auditory-motor neuroanatomical domains in children who stutter. J Commun Disord 61:29-47
Chang, Soo-Eun; Chow, Ho Ming; Wieland, Elizabeth A et al. (2016) Relation between functional connectivity and rhythm discrimination in children who do and do not stutter. Neuroimage Clin 12:442-50
Chang, Soo-Eun; Zhu, David C; Choo, Ai Leen et al. (2015) White matter neuroanatomical differences in young children who stutter. Brain 138:694-711
Wieland, Elizabeth A; McAuley, J Devin; Dilley, Laura C et al. (2015) Evidence for a rhythm perception deficit in children who stutter. Brain Lang 144:26-34
Chang, Soo-Eun (2014) Research updates in neuroimaging studies of children who stutter. Semin Speech Lang 35:67-79
Chang, Soo-Eun; Zhu, David C (2013) Neural network connectivity differences in children who stutter. Brain 136:3709-26

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