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