Cerebral laterality as assessed by hand preference measures and developmental stuttering


The causes of developmental stuttering, a neurodevelopmental communicative disorder, have not been elucidated to date. Neuroimaging studies suggest that atypical cerebral laterality could be one of such causal factors. Moreover, handedness, a behavioural index for cerebral laterality, has been linked to stuttering and recovery from it. However, findings are conflicting, possibly due to sample selection procedures, which typically rely on self-reported stuttering, and to the fact that handedness is typically assessed with regards to its direction rather than degree. We investigated the possible relationship between handedness and stuttering. This is the first study where children who stutter (CWS) were selected using clinical criteria as well as speech samples and where a non-Western population was studied. Findings from 83 CWS aged 3–9 years (mean = 6.43, SD = 1.84) and 90 age- and sex-matched children who do not stutter (mean = 6.45, SD = 1.71) revealed no differences in their hand preference scores as evaluated by parent-completed Edinburgh Handedness Inventory, for both direction and degree. The severity of stuttering was not found to correlate with the degree of handedness. We suggest that parents and professionals not treat left- or mixed-hand preference as a reason for concern with regards to stuttering.