Victoria Tumanova: 0000-0002-4216-683X

Document Type





Communication | Disability Studies


Purpose: We examined the effects of physiological arousal on speech motor control and speech motor practice effects in preschool-age children who do (CWS) and do not stutter (CWNS). Method: Participants included 18 CWS (mean age 4 years, 5 months) and 18 age- and gender-matched CWNS. The participants repeated a phrase “buy bobby a puppy” interspersed with viewing pictures from the International Affective Picture System under two experimental conditions speaking after viewing pictures with (1) negative, and (2) neutral valence. Participants’ lip movements were tracked using Optotrak system. The spatio-temporal index (STI; Smith, Goffman, Zelaznik, Ying & McGillem, 1995) and mean utterance duration were calculated to examine speech motor control and speech motor practice effects. Skin conductance level was measured during the experimental conditions to assess participants’ physiological level of arousal. Results: Preschool-age CWS demonstrated greater speech movement variability across all conditions and trials than CWNS. Further, the younger participants produced more variable articulatory movements than the older participants. Participants’ speech movement variability did not significantly differ between the negative and neutral experimental conditions and the level of physiological arousal did not have a significant effect on it. There was a non-significant trend of decrease in speech movement variability across the repeated trials in both groups. Last, CWS and CWNS did not differ in their mean utterance duration, suggesting that their articulation rate was similar across all conditions and trials. Conclusions: Our findings indicate that, compared to preschool-age CWNS, CWS demonstrate less mature speech motor control. However, present findings do not support the hypothesis that CWS benefit less from motor practice relative to CWNS. Given that our conditions elicited similar levels of arousal in the participants, future research is needed to examine whether physiological arousal disrupts speech motor control in preschool-age children potentially contributing to disruptions of speech fluency and the development of stuttering.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.



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