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February 17, 1989

Brain Studies May Alter Long-Held Concepts About Likely Causes of Some Voice Disorders

JAMA. 1989;261(7):964-965. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03420070014003

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TWO VOICE DISORDERS long considered to be psychological problems, stuttering and spasmodic dysphonia, have been shown in many persons to have a neurophysiological basis. Investigators at the 155th national meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, in San Francisco, described their findings, which are based on new analytic techniques.

The research is being done at the Dallas Center for Vocal Motor Control, Callier Center for Communication Disorders, University of Texas at Dallas Health Science Center. Stuttering affects approximately 1 in 100 persons in the United States, and spasmodic dysphonia, in which spasms of the larynx choke off words as they are uttered, is thought to affect about a tenth as many.

The technology employed to learn what's wrong with the brains, rather than the psyches, of persons with certain speech disorders includes magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), brain electrical activity mapping (BEAM), and single photon emission computerized tomography