Functional brain activation differences in stuttering identified with a rapid fMRI sequence

Torrey Loucks, Shelly Jo Kraft, Ai Leen Choo, Harish Sharma, Nicoline G. Ambrose

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of this study was to investigate whether brain activity related to the presence of stuttering can be identified with rapid functional MRI (fMRI) sequences that involved overt and covert speech processing tasks. The long-term goal is to develop sensitive fMRI approaches with developmentally appropriate tasks to identify deviant speech motor and auditory brain activity in children who stutter closer to the age at which recovery from stuttering is documented. Rapid sequences may be preferred for individuals or populations who do not tolerate long scanning sessions. In this report, we document the application of a picture naming and phoneme monitoring task in 3. min fMRI sequences with adults who stutter (AWS). If relevant brain differences are found in AWS with these approaches that conform to previous reports, then these approaches can be extended to younger populations. Pairwise contrasts of brain BOLD activity between AWS and normally fluent adults indicated the AWS showed higher BOLD activity in the right inferior frontal gyrus (IFG), right temporal lobe and sensorimotor cortices during picture naming and higher activity in the right IFG during phoneme monitoring. The right lateralized pattern of BOLD activity together with higher activity in sensorimotor cortices is consistent with previous reports, which indicates rapid fMRI sequences can be considered for investigating stuttering in younger participants. Educational objectives: The reader will learn about and be able to describe the: (1) use of functional MRI to study persistent developmental stuttering; (2) differences in brain activation between persons who stutter and normally fluent speakers; and (3) potential benefit of time efficient fMRI sequences combined with a range of speech processing tasks for investigating stuttering in younger populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)302-307
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Fluency Disorders
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • FMRI
  • Inferior frontal gyrus
  • Lateralization
  • Stuttering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Speech and Hearing
  • LPN and LVN


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