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Stuttering & Speech Science Laboratory

Current Research

  1. Based on the notion that ‘choral speech’ (speaking in unison) makes people who stutter fluent without training or changes in speech, we are continuing to investigate variations of this powerful effect.  We are examining how perceiving other ‘second speech signals’ while speaking can help make people who stutter become more fluent. We believe that this phenomenon occurs via a perception / production link made possible by mirror neuron systems.  We are also investigating the clinical application of such effects.

  2. Based on the notion that speech perception and production are neurally linked via mirror systems, we are investigating mirror neuron responses to visual and auditory speech perception tasks.  Electroencephalography (EEG) is a non-invasive and cost efficient method of examining mirror neuron systems.  Mirror neuron activity is detected by suppression of the mu wave in the alpha band.

  3. Based on the notion that stuttering causes physiological reactions in listeners, we are investigating eye gaze behavior changes when listeners witness stuttered speech relative to fluent speech.  We believe that changes in listener eye gaze behavior signal breakdowns in communication that are obvious to the person stuttering and thus, may be associated with the development of covert stuttering behaviors.

  4. Based on notions that stuttering is associated with physiological arousal, we are measuring differences in physiological arousal (e.g., changes in skin conductance and heart rate) in people who stutter in their anticipations of  producing stuttered versus fluent speech.  

  5. Based on notions that speech evolved from manual gestures and that speech and manual functions overlap on a neural level, we are investigating this relationship in stuttering.  Our experiments are showing that stuttering in speech can be captured simultaneously by dysfluency in manual movements.
     
    Ph.D. students:  Stephen Crawcour (scrawcour@utk.edu), Andrew Bowers (abowers@utk.edu)
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Department Audiology & Speech Pathology
578 South Stadium Hall, UT
Knoxville, TN 37996-0740
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Email: pwilli25@uthsc.edu