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Development of Cerebellar Lobule VI, and Its Association With Stuttering Severity in Children Who Stutter

Poster C38 in Poster Session C, Friday, October 7, 10:15 am - 12:00 pm EDT, Millennium Hall
Also presenting in Poster Slam C, Friday, October 7, 10:00 - 10:15 am EDT, Regency Ballroom

Yanni Liu1, Ho Ming Chow2, Soo-Eun Chang1; 1University of Michigan, 2University of Delaware

The cerebellum plays a crucial role in a wide variety of complex behaviors. Altered brain activity and connectivity in the cerebellum have been reported in stuttering, especially in the right cerebellar hemisphere, which primarily inter-connects with left cortical regions supporting orofacial movements, language and speech motor control. In this study, we focused on the right cerebellar lobule VI, a region heavily involved in the cerebellar-cortical loops in speech-motor control models such as the Directions into Velocities of Articulators (DIVA) model (Guenther et al., 2006). Specifically, we investigated how the gray matter volume (GMV) in cerebellar lobule VI changes with age during early and middle childhood, how cerebellar development may be associated with speech development (articulation), and stuttering severity in children who stutter (CWS). 95 CWS (aged 3 to 10 years) and 93 age- and gender-matched controls participated the study. All participants were monolingual English speakers exhibiting normal speech, language and cognitive development. Stuttering severity was assessed by collecting samples of spontaneous speech, elicited through storytelling and conversational tasks with a certified speech-language pathologist. For each participant, high resolution T1-weighted MRI images were acquired on a GE 3 T Signa HDx MR scanner. Among them, 44 CWS and 47 age- and gender-matched controls completed two structural scans about two years apart (age gap: 18 -31 months). Structural MRI data were segmented to tissue types, normalized and generated voxel-wise volumetric maps using SPM12. Whole-brain voxel-wise analyses were conducted to test age effects on GMV across and between groups (CWS vs. controls) controlling for sex and social economic status (SES), and to test how GMV was associated with speech development (Goldman-Fristoe Test of Articulation [GFTA]) and speech disfluency (SSI-4) across and between groups controlling for sex, SES and age at the initial scan. For the longitudinal samples, age gap between the two timepoints were also controlled for. Threshold for statistical significance was set at p<0.05 corrected for family-wise errors. Additionally, voxel-wise analyses specific to the right cerebellar lobule VI, defined using the AAL atlas, were conducted with small-volume adjustment. We found that GMV at right cerebellar lobule VI, along with other posterior cerebellar regions, increased with age linearly across groups in both the cross-sectional and longitudinal samples. GMV at right cerebellar lobule VI showed quadratic association with age in the cross-sectional sample, suggesting that younger age is associated with more GMV increase in this region. Meanwhile, longitudinal sample analyses revealed that CWS showed more GMV increase at right cerebellar lobule VI than controls during the 2-year period. While there was no association between GFTA and cerebellar GMV in either group, decreased stuttering severity was associated with increased GMV at right cerebellar lobule VI in CWS. The altered development of right cerebellar lobule VI and association with speech disfluency in CWS, suggests a possible critical role of this cerebellar lobule in the neural bases of stuttering.

Topic Areas: Speech Motor Control, Disorders: Developmental

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