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Inhibitory Control, Cognitive Flexibility, and the Production of Disfluencies in Children Who Do and Do Not Stutter.

PURPOSE: Differences in inhibitory control and cognitive flexibility between children who stutter (CWS) and children who do not stutter (CWNS) have been previously demonstrated. The aim of the current study was to investigate whether the previously reported inhibitory control- and cognitive flexibility-related performance costs for CWS are associated with the number of speech disfluencies that they produce.

METHOD: Participants were 19 CWS ( M age = 7.58 years, range: 6.08-9.17) and 19 CWNS matched on age and gender ( M age = 7.58 years, range: 6.08-9.33). Gamma regression models were used to investigate possible associations between performance costs in speed and accuracy measured during a computer task evaluating inhibitory control and cognitive flexibility and the number of speech disfluencies during video-recorded speech samples (story retelling and casual conversation).

RESULTS: Two significant interactions were observed. For both inhibitory control and cognitive flexibility, we identified a significant group and inhibitory control/cognitive flexibility performance-cost interaction in stuttering-like disfluencies (SLDs), indicating that the performance-cost effects on SLD production were significantly higher in the CWS group, compared to the CWNS group.

CONCLUSIONS: CWS with reduced inhibitory control or cognitive flexibility produce more SLDs, but not other disfluencies. These results are partly in line with some previous findings in nonstuttering and stuttering populations linking inhibitory control and cognitive flexibility weaknesses to the production of speech disfluencies.

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