Stammerers retrain brain in one week
JUST one week of speech therapy can reorganise the brain to reduce stammering, a study has found.
In the film The King’s Speech, it takes years for King George VI to overcome his stammer with the help of maverick therapist Lionel Logue.
But the new research shows that, with the right approach, progress can be rapid – and is reflected by changes in the brain.
Scientists in China tested 28 stammerers who were treated with a therapy that involved repeating two-syllable words and then reading words presented visually. Scans showed that in stammerers, brain thickness was reduced in an area important to speech and language production called the pars opercularis.
Neural interactions in the brain’s cerebellum were also overactive in people who stammered. Speech therapy returned functional connectivity in the cerebellum to normal, but did not alter the pars opercularis.
“These results show that the brain can reorganise itself with therapy, and that changes in the cerebellum are the result of the brain compensating for stuttering,” said study author Dr Chunming Lu, from Beijing Normal University in China, whose findings are published online in the journal Neurology.
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