Neural oscillatory activity and connectivity in children who stutter during a non-speech motor task

Valeria C. Caruso, Amanda Hampton Wray, Erica Lescht, Soo Eun Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Neural motor control rests on the dynamic interaction of cortical and subcortical regions, which is reflected in the modulation of oscillatory activity and connectivity in multiple frequency bands. Motor control is thought to be compromised in developmental stuttering, particularly involving circuits in the left hemisphere that support speech, movement initiation, and timing control. However, to date, evidence comes from adult studies, with a limited understanding of motor processes in childhood, closer to the onset of stuttering. Methods: We investigated the neural control of movement initiation in children who stutter and children who do not stutter by evaluating transient changes in EEG oscillatory activity (power, phase locking to button press) and connectivity (phase synchronization) during a simple button press motor task. We compared temporal changes in these oscillatory dynamics between the left and right hemispheres and between children who stutter and children who do not stutter, using mixed-model analysis of variance. Results: We found reduced modulation of left hemisphere oscillatory power, phase locking to button press and phase connectivity in children who stutter compared to children who do not stutter, consistent with previous findings of dysfunction within the left sensorimotor circuits. Interhemispheric connectivity was weaker at lower frequencies (delta, theta) and stronger in the beta band in children who stutter than in children who do not stutter. Conclusions: Taken together, these findings indicate weaker engagement of the contralateral left motor network in children who stutter even during low-demand non-speech tasks, and suggest that the right hemisphere might be recruited to support sensorimotor processing in childhood stuttering. Differences in oscillatory dynamics occurred despite comparable task performance between groups, indicating that an altered balance of cortical activity might be a core aspect of stuttering, observable during normal motor behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Article number40
JournalJournal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
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  • Beta oscillations
  • EEG
  • Motor processing
  • Neural oscillations
  • Stuttering


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