Victoria Tumanova: 0000-0002-4216-683X
Anthony P. Buhr: 0000-0001-9370-2332
Edward G. Conture: 0000-0001-8656-2036
Tedra A. Walden: 0000-0003-4917-1022
Stephen W. Porges: 0000-0002-7293-2005
stuttering, autonomic, nervous, system
Communication Sciences and Disorders
Purpose—The purpose of this study was to investigate potential differences in autonomic nervous system (ANS) activity to emotional stimuli between preschool-age children who do (CWS) and do not stutter (CWNS).
Methods—Participants were 20 preschool-age CWS (15 male) and 21 preschool-age CWNS (11 male). Participants were exposed to two emotion-inducing video clips (negative and positive) with neutral clips used to establish pre-and post-arousal baselines, and followed by age-appropriate speaking tasks. Respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) – often used as an index of parasympathetic activity – and skin conductance level (SCL) – often used as an index of sympathetic activity – were measured while participants listened to/watched the audio-video clip presentation and performed a speaking task.
Results—CWS, compared to CWNS, displayed lower amplitude RSA at baseline and higher SCL during a speaking task following the positive, compared to the negative, condition. During speaking, only CWS had a significant positive relation between RSA and SCL.
Conclusion—Present findings suggest that preschool-age CWS, when compared to their normally fluent peers, have a physiological state that is characterized by a greater vulnerability to emotional reactivity (i.e., lower RSA indexing less parasympathetic tone) and a greater mobilization of resources in support of emotional reactivity (i.e., higher SCL indexing more sympathetic activity) during positive conditions. Thus, while reducing stuttering to a pure physiological process is unwarranted, the present findings suggest that parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system activity is involved.
Jones, R., Buhr, A., Conture, E., Tumanova, V., Walden, T., & Porges, S. (2014). Autonomic nervous system activity of preschool-age children who stutter. Journal of Fluency Disorders, 41, 12-31, doi: 10.1016/j.jfludis.2014.06.002
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