Thursday, July 30, 2009

Amygdala, the cause of stuttering?

Time and Time again, I hear that the amygdala is causing stuttering. I am convinced the amygdala is not at the origin of stuttering and completely normal in stutterers rather a neurobiological instability of the systems involved in speech leads to stuttering and additionally provokes maladaptive learning by the amygdala that makes stuttering more severe and prone to relapse. So yes it is involves but it is normally functioning; we also do not say that the arm that holds the knife and stabs you in your back is dysfunctional!

On the other hand, stuttering therapies will benefit from understanding how to erase or over-write maladaptive associative learning by understanding how a normally functioning amygdala learns.


Anonymous said...

Can it be that there are more than one causes of stuttering?

Take baldness for example. If we have a room full of bald men (maybe I should say "follically challenged", but I won't). Their baldness may look identical, but their underlying causes may be very different.
I suspect that it's the same with stuttering. 100 people might stutter in the same way, but their causes may differ - some may have been triggered in childhood by an overactive amygdala, some may be due to a problem with the neural path used during speech, some may be due to a coordination problem in the brain, and some may be due to something we have yet to identify.

Our knowledge of the cause(s) of stuttering is still of a very primitive level.

Tom Weidig said...

Yes, but I believe that they all share an unstable speech system caused in many different ways.


Tom Weidig said...

So the bald head is the unstable speech system and not the stuttered speech.

Anonymous said...

But the speech system might have different types of "instabilities", depending on the stutterer. But if we take your statement as true (and it's by no means certain), then
we might all share the same "unstable speech system", but the *root cause* might vary from person to person. For example, an overactive amygdala might be a root cause in at least *some* stutterers, which causes an inhibitory reaction in a young child's speech system as a result of environmental factors (e.g. perceived negative feedback to his speech). A lot of people believe this theory - but it is not the only theory. After reading about dyslexia recently, I've thought of another idea that might be worth exploring (if it hasn't already been explored).

On this blog (and much more on that chaotic stutteringchat yahoo group), I've seen endless debates about whether stuttering is biological or psychological, and those debates are pointless. As I mentioned to Adrian in the Sally Reed blog - everything that happens in the brain is biological - even the stuff we call psychological. Let's be open-minded about the causes of stuttering. Having good testable theories of the causes of stuttering can be beneficial in developing more effective therapies (and weed out the crackpots) - but we must have an open mind. It's not enough to jump up and down and yelling "it's genetic, not psychological".

Anyway, Tom, it's been fun contributing to the discussions in your blog, but I'm afraid I have to disappear (at least for a while). I'll be doing a lot of travelling, and won't have time to make any more comments.

Boa sorte com o blog :)

speech therapy Orange County said...

Than you for sharing this post. This just shows that the brain is just a very complex part of us. Anyway, I hope that the main cause for this condition will be discovered co that a therapy or treatment that ill best address this problem will also be developed.