Motor excitability evaluation in developmental stuttering: A transcranial magnetic stimulation study

Pierpaolo Busan, Alessandro D'Ausilio, Massimo Borelli, Fabrizio Monti, Giovanna Pelamatti, Gilberto Pizzolato, Luciano Fadiga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Developmental stuttering (DS) is viewed as a motor speech-specific disorder, although several lines of research suggest that DS is a symptom of a broader motor disorder. We investigated corticospinal excitability in adult DS and normal speakers. Methods: Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) was administered over left/right hand representation of the motor cortex while recording motor evoked potentials (MEPs) from the contralateral first dorsal interosseous (FDI) muscle. Resting, active motor thresholds, silent period threshold and duration were measured. A stimulus-response curve at resting was also obtained to evaluate MEP amplitudes. Results: Lower corticospinal responses in the left hemisphere of DS were found, as indicated by a reduction of peak-to-peak MEP amplitudes compared to normal speakers. Conclusions: This provides further evidence that DS may be a general motor deficit that also involves motor non-speech-related structures. Moreover, our results confirm that DS may be related to left hemisphere hypoactivation and/or lower left hemisphere dominance. The present data and protocol may be useful for diagnosis of subtypes of DS that may benefit from pharmacological treatment by targeting the general level of cortical excitability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)781-792
Number of pages12
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013


  • Left hemisphere
  • Motor deficit
  • Motor evoked potentials
  • Pharmacological treatment of stuttering
  • Stuttering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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