A new study confirms that people who stutter do not do it when they think they are alone.
The phenomenon – referred to as the ‘talk-alone-effect’ – has previously been referred to anecdotally but never supported by scientific evidence ‘mainly because it is difficult to create conditions where people think they are really alone,’ New York University said speech expert Eric Jackson in a statement.
Jackson and a team of researchers came up with a new approach to overcoming this obstacle: they asked two dozen volunteers with tribes to complete a challenging computer programming task and told them that people who spoke to themselves during it did better.
The team then observed the participants as they believed that no one was listening, as well as during conversation, spontaneous speech, reading aloud and when repeating their private speech for two listeners.
The private speech state was the only time where stuttering was almost completely absent.
According to Jackson, the perception of being heard by a listener plays a central role in whether a person is stuttering.
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Researchers at NYU have confirmed that people with a strain tend not to strain if they think they are alone. They asked tribal volunteers to complete a challenging computer programming task and told them that people who spoke to themselves during it did better
The researchers evaluated 24 adults with stuttering – with the exception of private speech, all relationships involved participants who spoke or read to others.
All participants were informed of the fraud afterwards and consented to continue the trial, which was approved by the Institutional Review Board at NYU.
In the more than 10,000 syllables produced during the private speaking session, stems were observed only in seven possible, mild events exhibited by three participants, according to a report published in the Journal of Fluency Disorders
With the other forms of speech, the stem frequency remained fairly consistent.
Incidents occur among the 24 volunteers. In the more than 10,000 syllables produced during the private speaking session, stuttering was observed in only three participants in seven possible mild events.
‘Adults do not appear to stutter during private speech, indicating that speakers’ perceptions of listeners, whether real or imagined, play a critical and probably necessary role in the manifestation of stuttering events,’ the authors wrote.
Various theories have emerged about the cause of stuttering, including that it is a genetic condition or caused by volatile family dynamics.
Jackson said his research also indicates that ‘there must be a strong social component’.
A 2017 study conducted by researchers at the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, who posed as a strain, was associated with limited blood flow to the region of the frontal lobe associated with speech.
Famous people with tribes include Emily Blunt and Tiger Woods (above). More than 70 million people are worldwide, and the condition is four times more common in men than women
The more severe the strain, the more limited the blood flow in this region.
In addition, a greater abnormality of cerebral blood flow in the posterior language loop, an area associated with word processing that we hear, relates to more severe stuttering.
According to Jackson, the presence or possibility of a listener introduces the possibility that the speaker will be evaluated socially. When a speaker speaks privately, there is no social component and therefore the speaker is not preoccupied with perception or judgment.
More than 70 million people worldwide originate – including about 3 million in the United States alone – and the condition is four times more common in men than women.
Famous people who stutter include Emily Blunt, Winston Churchill, Marilyn Monroe and King George VI.
In July, Blunt told The Mail on Sunday that she was attracted to acting after realizing that ‘one of the ways I could speak normally was if I made a silly voice or an accent’.
During a CNN City Hall meeting last year, then-presidential candidate Joe Biden, who himself overcame a childhood strain, called it ‘the only disability people still laugh at.’
While stuttering has been linked to genetics and family dynamics, Jackson also says that ‘there must be a strong social component’. Pictured: President Joe Biden, who overcame a childhood strain, guides those who have difficulty speaking
At least prior to his inauguration as president, Biden guided more than a dozen people with speech problems.
‘The point I make to these young people that I’m still working with is that it’s critically important for them not to judge themselves by their speech, not let it define them,’ Biden said, adding that stuttering does not has something to do with your ‘intelligent quotient’ or your ‘intellectual makeup’.
Children with strains score as well as other children on tests that assess language, thinking abilities, and temperament.