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Title page for ETD etd-08292012-110151

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Jones, Robin Michael
URN etd-08292012-110151
Title Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Associates of Childhood Stuttering
Degree PhD
Department Hearing and Speech Sciences
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Edward G. Conture Committee Chair
Bernard Rousseau Committee Member
Daniel H. Ashmead Committee Member
Ralph N. Ohde Committee Member
Tedra A. Walden Committee Member
  • Stuttering
  • Preschool
  • Psychophysiology
  • Parasympathetic
  • Sympathetic
  • Emotion
Date of Defense 2012-08-17
Availability unrestricted
The purpose of this study was to assess whether sympathetic (i.e., skin conductance level, SCL) and parasympathetic (i.e., respiratory sinus arrhythmia, RSA) activity differs between preschool-age children who do (CWS) and do not stutter (CWNS). Participants were 20 preschool-age CWS (15 male) and 21 preschool-age CWNS (11 male). Participants were exposed to two emotion-inducing child video clips—negative and positive—with neutral clips used to establish pre- and post-arousal baselines, and then performed age-appropriate narrative tasks. Respiratory sinus arrhythmia and SCL were measured while participants listened to/watched the audio-video clip presentation and performed the narrative task.

Findings indicated that CWS, compared to CWNS, displayed lower RSA (i.e., physiological regulation) at baseline as well as greater SCL (i.e., physiological reactivity) during the speaking task following the positive, compared to the negative, condition. Lastly, CWS displayed a positive relation between SCL and RSA during speaking, whereas CWNS did not display a significant relation between the two variables. In conclusion, during environmental challenge, preschool-age CWS, when compared to their CWNS peers, differed in physiological reactivity and regulation. These differences may divert CWS’s resources away from attentional, cognitive, and speech-language processes needed to fluently initiate and/or maintain communication, a possibility that must await further empirical study.

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