Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Men's Health

Font Size

Stuttering Starts Even Before Speaking

Study Shows Brain Processing Slowed in People Who Stutter
WebMD Health News

July 27, 2004 -- Stuttering has traditionally been thought of as a problem with speech, but new research shows that when people who stutter aren't speaking, their brain processes language differently -- even when just thinking about language.

In what's billed as the first study of its kind, Purdue researchers measured the brain's electrical activity and the time it takes to respond to questions in people who stutter.

"There was a significant delay in response time when subjects were given a complex language task," says researcher Christine Weber-Fox, PhD, assistant professor of speech sciences and a cognitive neuroscientist.

"We also found that in people who stutter, certain areas of the brain are more active when processing some language tasks."

During the study 22 adult participants responded by pressing a button to questions regarding sentence meaning, grammar or sentence structure, and rhyming while wearing a "bathing cap" which measured brain activity.

The study shows that a stutterer's delay in articulating words may actually begin before the first syllable is uttered, as they "prepare" what they will say.

Testing Language ... Without Speaking

In her study, to be published in the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, she and colleague Anne Smith, PhD, flashed a series of two words on a computer screen. The participants -- half of whom stutter -- were asked which pairs rhymed, without saying the words out loud. Some word groups were spelled alike but did not rhyme, such as "gown" and "own"; others rhymed but weren't spelled similarly, such as "cone" and "own"; while others were completely different, such as "cake" and "own."

The results: Most stutterers were able to quickly identify words that both looked alike and rhymed, such as "thrown" and "own." But their response time was delayed for the other more complex languages tasks.

How can these findings help?

"This research points us more into the direction of adequate assessment and intervention," says stuttering researcher Edward G. Conture, PhD, of Vanderbilt University, who was not involved in the study.

"Therapeutically, it doesn't offer a lot at this point, but it provides the basis for better understanding," he tells WebMD. "It shows that speech and language pathologists need to pay attention to speech and language planning in people who stutter, as well as production skills."

Today on WebMD

man coughing
Men shouldn’t ignore.
man swinging in hammock
And how to get out it.
shaving tools
On your shaving skills.
muscular man flexing
Four facts that matter.
Food Men 10 Foods Boost Male Health
Thoughtful man sitting on bed
Man taking blood pressure
doctor holding syringe
Condom Quiz
man running
older couple in bed