Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 59(6), 1295–1314p. (2016) DOI:10.1044/2016_JSLHR-S-16-0145

The Impact of Social-Cognitive Stress on Speech Variability, Determinism, and Stability in Adults Who Do and Do Not Stutter

E. S. Jackson, M. Tiede, D. Beal, D. H. Whalen

Purpose This study examined the impact of social-cognitive stress on sentence-level speech variability, determinism, and stability in adults who stutter (AWS) and adults who do not stutter (AWNS). We demonstrated that complementing the spatiotemporal index (STI) with recurrence quantification analysis (RQA) provides a novel approach to both assessing and interpreting speech variability in stuttering.

Method Twenty AWS and 21 AWNS repeated sentences in audience and nonaudience conditions while their lip movements were tracked. Across-sentence variability was assessed via the STI; within-sentence determinism and stability were assessed via RQA.

Results Compared with the AWNS, the AWS produced speech that was more variable across sentences and more deterministic and stable within sentences. Audience presence contributed to greater within-sentence determinism and stability in the AWS. A subset of AWS who were more susceptible to experiencing anxiety exhibited reduced across-sentence variability in the audience condition compared with the nonaudience condition.

Conclusions This study extends the assessment of speech variability in AWS and AWNS into the social-cognitive domain and demonstrates that the characterization of speech within sentences using RQA is complementary to the across-sentence STI measure. AWS seem to adopt a more restrictive, less flexible speaking approach in response to social-cognitive stress, which is presumably a strategy for maintaining observably fluent speech.

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