Reduced activation of left orbitofrontal cortex precedes blocked vocalization: A magnetoencephalographic study

Paul F. Sowman*, Stephen Crain, Elisabeth Harrison, Blake W. Johnson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


While stuttering is known to be characterized by anomalous brain activations during speech, very little data is available describing brain activations during stuttering. To our knowledge there are no reports describing brain activations that precede blocking. In this case report we present magnetoencephalographic data from a person who stutters who had significant instances of blocking whilst performing a vowel production task. This unique data set has allowed us to compare the brain activations leading up to a block with those leading up to successful production. Surprisingly, the results are very consistent with data comparing fluent production in stutterers to controls. We show here that preceding a block there is significantly less activation of the left orbitofrontal and inferiorfrontal cortices. Furthermore, there is significant extra activation in the right orbitofrontal and inferiorfrontal cortices, and the sensorimotor and auditory areas bilaterally. This data adds weight to the argument forwarded by Kell et al. (2009) that the best functional sign of optimal repair in stutterering is activation of the left BA 47/12 in the orbitofrontal cortex.Educational objectives: At the end of this activity the reader will be able to (a) identify brain regions associated with blocked vocalization, (b) discuss the functions of the orbitofrontal and inferior frontal cortices in regard to speech production and (c) describe the usefulness and limitations of magnetoencephalography (MEG) in stuttering research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-365
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Fluency Disorders
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012


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