Childhood Speech Disorder Apraxia: Underlying Brain Pathway Identified

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Prof. Angela Morgan PhDNHMRC Practitioner Fellow and Leads the Speech and Language GroupMurdoch Children's Research Institute

Prof. Morgan

Prof. Angela Morgan PhD
NHMRC Practitioner Fellow and
Leads the Speech and Language Group
Murdoch Children’s Research Institute

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Approximately 5% of school-aged children have a communication impairment that affects speech, language, or both. There are many subtypes of speech sound disorders, but the most severe is  (CAS), which impacts sequencing of speech movements. Childhood apraxia of speech  occurs in around 1 in 1000 children. In persistent cases of CAS, speech cannot easily be understood throughout life. Although CAS is rare, unravelling its neurobiological causes is likely to identify brain networks crucial to more common and less severe forms of speech disorders.

Here we provide comprehensive speech and neuroimaging data on a large novel family where one parent and 11 children presented with features of childhood apraxia of speech. Brain MRI scanning revealed changes in core parts of the brain responsible for speech production. Even though CAS manifests as a problem with talking, we found disruptions in an underlying pathway of the brain normally associated with language (the meaning and grammar of what we say), rather than speech production. Our findings identify disruption of the dorsal language stream as a novel finding in developmental speech disorders. Overall, our data confirm the early role of this stream in auditory-to-articulation transformations.  Continue reading