Weak responses to auditory feedback perturbation during articulation in persons who stutter: evidence for abnormal auditory-motor transformation
Beal, Deryk S.
Ghosh, Satrajit S.
Tiede, Mark K.
Guenther, Frank H.
Perkell, Joseph S.
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CitationCai S, Beal DS, Ghosh SS, Tiede MK, Guenther FH, Perkell JS (2012) Weak Responses to Auditory Feedback Perturbation during Articulation in Persons Who Stutter: Evidence for Abnormal Auditory-Motor Transformation. PLoS ONE 7(7): e41830. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0041830
Previous empirical observations have led researchers to propose that auditory feedback (the auditory perception of self-produced sounds when speaking) functions abnormally in the speech motor systems of persons who stutter (PWS). Researchers have theorized that an important neural basis of stuttering is the aberrant integration of auditory information into incipient speech motor commands. Because of the circumstantial support for these hypotheses and the differences and contradictions between them, there is a need for carefully designed experiments that directly examine auditory-motor integration during speech production in PWS. In the current study, we used real-time manipulation of auditory feedback to directly investigate whether the speech motor system of PWS utilizes auditory feedback abnormally during articulation and to characterize potential deficits of this auditory-motor integration. Twenty-one PWS and 18 fluent control participants were recruited. Using a short-latency formant-perturbation system, we examined participants' compensatory responses to unanticipated perturbation of auditory feedback of the first formant frequency during the production of the monophthong [ε]. The PWS showed compensatory responses that were qualitatively similar to the controls' and had close-to-normal latencies (∼150 ms), but the magnitudes of their responses were substantially and significantly smaller than those of the control participants (by 47% on average, p<0.05). Measurements of auditory acuity indicate that the weaker-than-normal compensatory responses in PWS were not attributable to a deficit in low-level auditory processing. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that stuttering is associated with functional defects in the inverse models responsible for the transformation from the domain of auditory targets and auditory error information into the domain of speech motor commands.