Dr. Deryk Beal and colleagues have published a paper entitled “White matter tractography of the neural network for speech-motor control in children who stutter” in Neuroscience Letters in the March issue; Neurosci Lett. 2018 Mar 6;668:37-42. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2018.01.009. Epub 2018 Jan 5.
Dr. Beal and colleagues previously discovered an abnormal trajectory of cortical gray matter development in the left inferior frontal gyrus across the lifespan of children and adults who stutter indicating a crucial role for this brain region in the onset and maintenance of persistent developmental stuttering (D. Beal, J. Lerch, B. Cameron, R. Henderson, V. Gracco, L. Nil, The trajectory of gray matter development in Broca’s area is abnormal in people who stutter, Front Hum Neurosci. 9 (2015) 89.). This new publication builds on their earlier study to determine the characteristics of the underlying white matter connectivity of the neural network for speech-motor control in children who stutter versus a matched control group.
The team used diffusion tensor imaging and advanced deterministic tractography to reveal that children who stutter have abnormally high fractional anisotropy and axial diffusivity in the right frontal aslant tract (FAT) connecting the inferior frontal gyrus to the supplementary motor area.
Dr. Beal and colleagues are the first group, to our knowledge, to successfully virtually dissect the FAT in a sample of children who stutter. Previous studies of white matter properties in children who stutter may not have been sensitive to this abnormality as they did not target this important tract for speech-motor control, but rather used whole-brain voxel-based approaches.
View the publication abstract here.