AUG 31, 2017 3:34 PM PDT

Stutter: The Science Behind the Stammer

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Stuttering, a speech disorder characterized by an irregular speech flow, affects about 3 million Americans. It was once thought that stuttering was caused solely by nervousness and anxiety, but we now know that this speech disorder is much more complex and is influenced by many different factors.

A large proportion of stuttering can be attributed to genetics. That is, 60 percent of people who stutter have a family member who also stutters. Despite this evidence, scientists have yet to fully understand the genetic contributions to stuttering. This may be complicated by other neurophysiological factors. In the most recent study of this condition, scientists linked reduced blood flow to the Broca's area to stuttering. Of note, Broca's area is the region in the frontal lobe of the brain linked to speech production.

Even though stuttering is a common phenomenon, it still carries a heavy social stigma. Many people who stutter often feel alone and isolated. However, awareness of this condition can be a powerful tool in dispelling the myths that surround stuttering.
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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