February 7, 2017 – Anomalous network architecture of the resting brain in children who stutter
We combined a large longitudinal neuroimaging dataset that includes children who do and do not stutter and a whole-brain network analysis in order to examine the intra- and inter-network connectivity changes associated with stuttering. Additionally, we asked whether whole brain connectivity patterns observed at the initial year of scanning could predict persistent stuttering in later years.
A total of 224 high-quality resting state fMRI scans collected from 84 children (42 stuttering, 42 controls) were entered into an independent component analysis (ICA), yielding a number of distinct network connectivity maps (“components”) as well as expression scores for each component that quantified the degree to which it is expressed for each child. These expression scores were compared between stuttering and control groups’ first scans. In a second analysis, we examined whether the components that were most predictive of stuttering status also predicted persistence in stuttering.
Stuttering status, as well as stuttering persistence, were associated with aberrant network connectivity involving the default mode network and its connectivity with attention, somatomotor, and frontoparietal networks. The results suggest developmental alterations in the balance of integration and segregation of large-scale neural networks that support proficient task performance including fluent speech motor control.
This study supports the view that stuttering is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder and provides comprehensive brain network maps that substantiate past theories emphasizing the importance of considering situational, emotional, attentional and linguistic factors in explaining the basis for stuttering onset, persistence, and recovery.