White matter pathways in persistent developmental stuttering: Lessons from tractography

Vered Kronfeld-Duenias, Oren Civier, Ofer Amir, Ruth Ezrati-Vinacour, Michal Ben-Shachar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Fluent speech production relies on the coordinated processing of multiple brain regions. This highlights the role of neural pathways that connect distinct brain regions in producing fluent speech. Here, we aim to investigate the role of the white matter pathways in persistent developmental stuttering (PDS), where speech fluency is disrupted. Methods: We use diffusion weighted imaging and tractography to compare the white matter properties between adults who do and do not stutter. We compare the diffusion properties along 18 major cerebral white matter pathways. We complement the analysis with an overview of the methodology and a roadmap of the pathways implicated in PDS according to the existing literature. Results: We report differences in the microstructural properties of the anterior callosum, the right inferior longitudinal fasciculus and the right cingulum in people who stutter compared with fluent controls. Conclusions: Persistent developmental stuttering is consistently associated with differences in bilateral distributed networks. We review evidence showing that PDS involves differences in bilateral dorsal fronto-temporal and fronto-parietal pathways, in callosal pathways, in several motor pathways and in basal ganglia connections. This entails an important role for long range white matter pathways in this disorder. Using a wide-lens analysis, we demonstrate differences in additional, right hemispheric pathways, which go beyond the replicable findings in the literature. This suggests that the affected circuits may extend beyond the known language and motor pathways.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68-83
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Fluency Disorders
StatePublished - Mar 2018


  • diffusion imaging
  • fluency disorders
  • methodological overview
  • stuttering
  • tractography
  • white matter

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Speech and Hearing
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Language and Linguistics
  • LPN and LVN
  • Linguistics and Language


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