Planum temporale asymmetry in people who stutter.
Gough PM., Connally EL., Howell P., Ward D., Chesters J., Watkins KE.
PURPOSE: Previous studies have reported that the planum temporale - a language-related structure that normally shows a leftward asymmetry - had reduced asymmetry in people who stutter (PWS) and reversed asymmetry in those with severe stuttering. These findings are consistent with the theory that altered language lateralization may be a cause or consequence of stuttering. Here, we re-examined these findings in a larger sample of PWS. METHODS: We evaluated planum temporale asymmetry in structural MRI scans obtained from 67 PWS and 63 age-matched controls using: 1) manual measurements of the surface area; 2) voxel-based morphometry to automatically calculate grey matter density. We examined the influences of gender, age, and stuttering severity on planum temporale asymmetry. RESULTS: The size of the planum temporale and its asymmetry were not different in PWS compared with Controls using either the manual or the automated method. Both groups showed a significant leftwards asymmetry on average (about one-third of PWS and Controls showed rightward asymmetry). Importantly, and contrary to previous reports, the degree of asymmetry was not related to stuttering severity. In the manual measurements, women who stutter had a tendency towards rightwards asymmetry but men who stutter showed the same degree of leftwards asymmetry as male Controls. In the automated measurements, Controls showed a significant increase in leftwards asymmetry with age but this relationship was not observed in PWS. CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that reduced planum temporale asymmetry is not a prominent feature of the brain in PWS and that the asymmetry is unrelated to stuttering severity.