Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Hum. Neurosci., 11 February 2014 | doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00054

Diffusion imaging of cerebral white matter in persons who stutter: evidence for network-level anomalies

  • 1Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences, Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Boston University, Boston, MA, USA
  • 2Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders and the Institute for Stuttering Treatment and Research, Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada
  • 3Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA

Deficits in brain white matter have been a main focus of recent neuroimaging studies on stuttering. However, no prior study has examined brain connectivity on the global level of the cerebral cortex in persons who stutter (PWS). In the current study, we analyzed the results from probabilistic tractography between regions comprising the cortical speech network. An anatomical parcellation scheme was used to define 28 speech production-related ROIs in each hemisphere. We used network-based statistic (NBS) and graph theory to analyze the connectivity patterns obtained from tractography. At the network-level, the probabilistic corticocortical connectivity from the PWS group were significantly weaker than that from persons with fluent speech (PFS). NBS analysis revealed significant components in the bilateral speech networks with negative correlations with stuttering severity. To facilitate comparison with previous studies, we also performed tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS) and regional fractional anisotropy (FA) averaging. Results from tractography, TBSS and regional FA averaging jointly highlight the importance of several regions in the left peri-Rolandic sensorimotor and premotor areas, most notably the left ventral premotor cortex (vPMC) and middle primary motor cortex, in the neuroanatomical basis of stuttering.

Keywords: stuttering, speech disorders, diffusion tensor imaging, brain connectivity, white matter, probabilistic tractography, regions of interest (ROIs)

Citation: Cai S, Tourville JA, Beal DS, Perkell JS, Guenther FH and Ghosh SS (2014) Diffusion imaging of cerebral white matter in persons who stutter: evidence for network-level anomalies. Front. Hum. Neurosci. 8:54. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00054

Received: 04 September 2013; Paper pending published: 03 November 2013;
Accepted: 23 January 2014; Published online: 11 February 2014.

Edited by:

Srikantan S. Nagarajan, University of California, San Francisco, USA

Reviewed by:

Srikantan S. Nagarajan, University of California, San Francisco, USA
Jeffrey I. Berman, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, USA

Copyright © 2014 Cai, Tourville, Beal, Perkell, Guenther and Ghosh. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

*Correspondence: Satrajit S. Ghosh, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT Building 46 Room 4033F, 43 Vassar Street, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA e-mail: satra@mit.edu

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