Phonological working memory in adults who do and do not stutter
Vallely, Megann Nicole
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The purpose of the present study was to explore whether the phonological encoding difficulties that have been demonstrated in children who stutter persist in adults whose stuttering persists. This hypothesis was investigated by comparing the phonological working memory of adults who stutter (AWS) and adults who do not stutter (AWNS) using non-word repetition and phoneme elision tasks. Twenty-four adults (age range = 17;9 to 46;11 mean age = 28;2): 12 AWS and 12 AWNS matched on gender and age participated in this study. A total of 48 non-words consisting of an equal number (N = 12 per syllable length category) of two-syllable, three-syllable, four-syllable and seven-syllable non-words were selected for use in the non-word repetition and phoneme elision tasks. In the non-word repetition task, results showed a significant interaction between fluency group and syllable length for the 7-syllable length category only, indicating that AWS require a significantly higher mean number of attempts than AWNS. Results of the phoneme elision task revealed a significant main effect for syllable length with both groups demonstrating a significant reduction in accuracy as the non-words increased in length, but there was no significant interaction between fluency group and syllable class length. Potential implications of these findings are presented along with recommendations for future research.