Wednesday, February 01, 2006

What does it mean?

I found this very interesting article on PubMed: here.

Luc de Nil has done a lot research in the past. I am aware of his brain imaging studies, and research on dual tasks. Webster was the first to show that people with PDS are less good at dual tasks. In their article they conclude that people with PDS take longer to automatise finger sequences. The first author is probably one of Luc's students or researchers.

"The present study compared the automaticity levels of persons who stutter (PWS) and persons who do not stutter (PNS) on a practiced finger sequencing task under dual task conditions. Automaticity was defined as the amount of attention required for task performance [Parasuraman, R. (1998). The attentive brain. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press]. Twelve PWS and 12 control subjects practiced finger tapping sequences under single and then dual task conditions. Control subjects performed the sequencing task significantly faster and less variably under single versus dual task conditions while PWS' performance was consistently slow and variable (comparable to the dual task performance of control subjects) under both conditions. Control subjects were significantly more accurate on a colour recognition distracter task than PWS under dual task conditions. These results suggested that control subjects transitioned to quick, accurate and increasingly automatic performance on the sequencing task after practice, while PWS did not. Because most stuttering treatment programs for adults include practice and automatization of new motor speech skills, findings of this finger sequencing study and future studies of speech sequence learning may have important implications for how to maximize stuttering treatment effectiveness. Educational objectives: As a result of this activity, the participant will be able to: (1) Define automaticity and explain the importance of dual task paradigms to investigate automaticity; (2) Relate the proposed relationship between motor learning and automaticity as stated by the authors; (3) Summarize the reviewed literature concerning the performance of PWS on dual tasks; and (4) Explain why the ability to transition to automaticity during motor learning may have important clinical implications for stuttering treatment effectiveness."


I still don't understand how it can fit into my picture of PDS. Weak connections between speech and language areas cannot explain these findings. It is possible that both the weak connection and the lack of automaticity are both caused by something else.

From my experience, I certainly have trouble automatising sequences fast and loose such automatisms under stress quickly. I remember that I had especially trouble learning all the katas (a set of exercises, a bit like a dance) in Karate...

6 comments:

Einar said...

Hm, interesting study indead. The findings should be analysed further. Wouldn't the consequent conclusion be that all stutterers are slower motoric learners (as they perform bad in single and dual task conditions)?. A statement I have trouble believing as such. Concerning your karate kata example: I've done karate too and enjoyed learning katas, for myself I didn't notice any learning deficiency in that sense compared to my training partners. Same with my current hobby which is Salsa dancing, I don't notice any "handicap" there when memorizing twists and turns...

Anonymous said...

Hi Tom.

I have noticed the following. When I am on "good days", speaking fairly well, practising techniques, I find myself easily doing tasks at work. But then, with no reason, I enter "bad days". In those bad days it is more difficult for me to do automatic task, I fell kind of dumb. I notice that it is difficult for me to write properly in the computer, I make much more mistakes, change the order of letters, kind of dislexia... In those days I also speak much worse and it is imposible for me to apply any speaking technique. Then, one week later or so, with no reason, the "cloud" goes and come again the good days. It is as you said: "a mist in the city", something like that.

Regards.
Pablo.

Tom Weidig said...

Salsa... I should try that, too. Where and when are you exposing yourself? :-)

Einar said...

Yup Salsa is big fun! And very good for "socially inhibited" stutterers... ;-) I currently do 2 courses a week, one at Full Monty on Tuesday nights, one in Pulp on Thursday nights... If you're interested trying it out yourself, I know there is a beginner's course which just started last week in Merl in the "Cafe de l'arret" on Wednesday nights, so if you're interested I can give you the contact details... :-)

Dries said...

funny. i stutter and i'm a pianist, so i'm sure i'd throw of the finger sequencing study...

Erik Mann said...

another great post...cool blog...erik