Neural Changes in Children With Residual Speech Sound Disorder After Ultrasound Biofeedback Speech Therapy

Caroline Spencer, Jennifer Vannest, Jonathan L. Preston, Edwin Maas, Erin Redle Sizemore, Tara McAllister, D. H. Whalen, Thomas Maloney, Suzanne Boyce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Children with residual speech sound disorders (RSSD) have shown dif-ferences in neural function for speech production, as compared to their typical peers; however, information about how these differences may change over time and relative to speech therapy is needed. To address this gap, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine functional activation and connec-tivity on adaptations of the syllable repetition task (SRT-Early Sounds and SRT-Late Sounds) in children with RSSD before and after a speech therapy program. Method: Sixteen children with RSSD completed an fMRI experiment before (Time 1) and after (Time 2) a speech therapy program with ultrasound visual feedback for /ɹ/ misarticulation. Progress in therapy was measured via perceptual ratings of productions of untreated /ɹ/ word probes. To control for practice effects and developmental change in patterns of activation and connectivity, 17 children with typical speech development (TD) completed the fMRI at Time 1 and Time 2. Functional activation was analyzed using a region-of-interest approach and func-tional connectivity was analyzed using a seed-to-voxel approach. Results: Children with RSSD showed a range of responses to therapy. After correcting for multiple comparisons, we did not observe any statistically signifi-cant cross-sectional differences or longitudinal changes in functional activation. A negative relationship between therapy effect size and functional activation in the left visual association cortex was on the SRT-Late Sounds after therapy, but it did not survive correction for multiple comparisons. Significant longitudi-nal changes in functional connectivity were observed for the RSSD group on SRT-Early Sounds and SRT-Late Sounds, as well as for the TD group on the SRT-Early Sounds. RSSD and TD groups showed connectivity differences near the left insula on the SRT-Late Sounds at Time 2. Conclusion: RSSD and treatment with ultrasound visual feedback may thus be associated with neural differences in speech motor and visual association pro-cesses recruited for speech production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3223-3241
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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