Evidence for a rhythm perception deficit in children who stutter

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Stuttering is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects the timing and rhythmic flow of speech production. When speech is synchronized with an external rhythmic pacing signal (e.g., a metronome), even severe stuttering can be markedly alleviated, suggesting that people who stutter may have difficulty generating an internal rhythm to pace their speech. To investigate this possibility, children who stutter and typically-developing children (n = 17 per group, aged 6–11 years) were compared in terms of their auditory rhythm discrimination abilities of simple and complex rhythms. Children who stutter showed worse rhythm discrimination than typically-developing children. These findings provide the first evidence of impaired rhythm perception in children who stutter, supporting the conclusion that developmental stuttering may be associated with a deficit in rhythm processing.

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