EEG Mu (μ) rhythm spectra and oscillatory activity differentiate stuttering from non-stuttering adults
Stuttering is linked to sensorimotor deficits related to internal modeling mechanisms. This study compared spectral power and oscillatory activity of EEG mu (μ) rhythms between persons who stutter (PWS) and controls in listening and auditory discrimination tasks. EEG data were analyzed from passive listening in noise and accurate (same/different) discrimination of tones or syllables in quiet and noisy backgrounds. Independent component analysis identified left and/or right μ rhythms with characteristic alpha (α) and beta (β) peaks localized to premotor/motor regions in 23 of 27 people who stutter (PWS) and 24 of 27 controls. PWS produced μ spectra with reduced β amplitudes across conditions, suggesting reduced forward modeling capacity. Group time-frequency differences were associated with noisy conditions only. PWS showed increased μ-β desynchronization when listening to noise and early in discrimination events, suggesting evidence of heightened motor activity that might be related to forward modeling deficits. PWS also showed reduced μ-α synchronization in discrimination conditions, indicating reduced sensory gating. Together these findings indicate spectral and oscillatory analyses of μ rhythms are sensitive to stuttering. More specifically, they can reveal stuttering-related sensorimotor processing differences in listening and auditory discrimination that also may be influenced by basal ganglia deficits.