Autonomic nervous system response to speech production in stuttering and normally fluent preschool-age children

Victoria Tumanova, Nicole Backes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


We studied speech-related sympathetic nervous system arousal of preschool-age children who do (CWS) and do not stutter (CWNS) and its association with children’s proclivity to experience negative emotions and children’s self-reported attitudes toward speaking. Method: Electrodermal activity measures were collected from 32 preschool-age children while they engaged in a picture description and a nonword repetition task. Children’s proclivity to experience negative emotions was assessed with a parent report questionnaire. Children’s communication attitude was assessed with a self-report questionnaire. Results: CWS did not differ from CWNS in their sympathetic arousal during a picture description task. However, during a more challenging nonword repetition task, preschool-age CWS had a higher sympathetic arousal level than CWNS. Although CWS were rated by their caregivers as more fearful and prone to sadness, children’s tendency to experience stronger and more frequent negative emotions was not associated with their sympathetic arousal during speaking. Lastly, although CWS had a more negative communication attitude than CWNS, it was not associated with their level of sympathetic arousal during speaking. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that age-appropriate social communication tasks are not inherently more stressful for preschool-age CWS and are not associated with staterelated stress or anxiety that is often reported for adults who stutter. However, speaking tasks that place a higher demand on children’s cognitive–linguistic system may be more taxing and challenging to preschool CWS than CWNS, leading to a higher level of arousal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4030-4044
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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