ADHD and Stuttering: Similar EEG Profiles Suggest Neurotherapy as an Adjunct to Traditional Speech Therapies


  • Brenda Ratcliff-Baird



Background. This study investigated differences in theta and alpha activity measured by electroencephalography (EEG) at frontal sites between stutterers and nonstutterers during focused attention tasks. Methods. EEG was recorded from 22 male, right-handed developmental stutterers and 22 male, age- and handedness-matched nonstutterers in six conditions: baseline resting-eyes-open; baseline resting-eyes-closed; eyes-open focused attention; eyes-closed focused attention; eyes-closed backwards-counting math task; and eyes-open auditory delayed nonmatch-to-sample task. Results. Significantly more theta was recorded at frontal sites (FP1/2, F3/4, F7/8 and FZ) in each condition for stutterers than for nonstutterers. Significantly lower alpha (8-10 Hz) was recorded at these sites in stutterers than nonstutterers in all conditions. No hemisphere effects were found for either group. Conclusion. The finding of more theta and low alpha activity in stutterers lends empirical support to an attentional component of stuttering. There are strong similarities in the EEG, morphology, and behavior of stutterers and individuals with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). These similarities suggest that neurofeedback, which has proven successful in the treatment of ADHD, may hold promise as a viable adjunct treatment to traditional speech therapies for stuttering.