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Researchers Who Discovered First Genes for Stuttering will Present Findings to the National Stuttering Association
Date:2/11/2010

Implications that speech problems may be an inherited metabolic disorder will be discussed during the July 2010 Conference and Research Symposium.

(Vocus) February 11, 2010 -- Stuttering may be the result of a glitch in the day-to-day process by which cellular components in key regions of the brain are broken down and recycled, says a study in the Feb. 10 Online First issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

“This is a very exciting discovery,” said National Stuttering Association (NSA) Chairman Ernie Canadeo. “It validates our view that stuttering has a genetic component, and that it is not behavioral. Emotional factors do not cause stuttering.”

The study, led by researchers at the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), part of the National Institutes of Health, has identified three genes as a source of stuttering in volunteers from Pakistan, the United States, and England.

“The study provides further evidence that stuttering is not a behavioral disorder but has as its origins—genetics manifesting in abnormal neuronal activity. We have learned much recently from brain imaging and pharmacologic studies that stuttering is associated with abnormal neurophysiology—how this relates directly to lysosomal function is an area which we definitely need to research further,” said Gerald A. Maguire, M.D. Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, Kirkup Endowed Chair in Stuttering Treatment, Senior Associate Dean, Educational Affairs, University of California, Irvine School of Medicine.

Stuttering tends to run in families and researchers have long suspected a genetic component. Previous studies of stuttering in a group of families from Pakistan had been done by Dennis Drayna, Ph.D., a geneticist with the NIDCD who led the latest research.

“These findings will help with ear
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