Purpose: We investigated short-term practice and retention of nonwords in 10 adults who stutter (Mean age = 30.7 years, SD= 15.1) and age and sex-matched 10 control participants (Mean age = 30.8 years, SD= 14.9). Methods: Participants were required to repeat nonwords varying in length (3, 4, and 6 syllables), phonotactic constraint (PC vs. NPC, on 3-syllable nonwords only), and complexity (simple, complex). They were tested twice with 1. h gap between sessions. Results: Logistic mixed model of speech accuracy revealed that the AWS showed a significantly lower probability of correct responses with increasing length and complexity. Analysis of speech kinematics revealed practice effects within Session 1 in AWS seen as a reduction in movement variability for the 3-syllable nonwords; the control group was performing at ceiling at this length. For the 4-syllable nonwords, the control group showed a significant reduction in movement variability with practice, and retained this reduction in Session 2, while the AWS group did not show practice or retention. Group differences were not evident at the 6-syllable level. Conclusions: Group differences in speech accuracy suggest differences in phonemic encoding and/or speech motor processes. Group differences in changes in movement variability within and between sessions suggest reduced practice and retention in AWS. Relevance of the combined use of both behavioral and kinematic measures to interpret the nature of the skill acquisition deficit in persons who stutter is discussed.Educational objectives: At the end of this activity the reader will be able to: (a) summarize the process of skill acquisition; (b) discuss the literature on skill acquisition deficits in adults who stutter, (c) summarize the differences between AWS and control participants in speech accuracy and speech kinematics with short-term practice and retention of nonwords, (d) discuss potential research directions in the area of skill acquisition in AWS.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was funded by an NIH grant (NIDCD R03 DC010047 ). We express gratitude to our participants. We also acknowledge Brittany Graves, Jillian Stein, and Samantha Weaver for assistance with data collection and analysis, Dr. Edward Carney for technical assistance, and Dr. Anne Smith for feedback on the final version of this manuscript.
Jayanthi Sasisekaran and Sanford Weisberg received funding from an NIH grant (NIDCD R03 DC010047) in support of this research. No other relevant financial relationships used in support of the research reported in this article were disclosed.
- Phonological encoding
- Stuttering, Speech motor practice and learning, Movement variability, Speech accuracy