Inferior frontal cortex pars opercularis (IFCop) features a distinct cerebral dominance and vast functional heterogeneity. Left and right IFCop are implicated in developmental stuttering. Weak left IFCop connections and divergent connectivity of hyperactive right IFCop regions have been related to impeded speech. Here, we reanalyzed diffusion magnetic resonance imaging data from 83 children (41 stuttering). We generated connection probability maps of functionally segregated area 44 parcels and calculated hemisphere-wise analyses of variance. Children who stutter showed reduced connectivity of executive, rostral-motor, and caudal-motor corticostriatal projections from the left IFCop. We discuss this finding in the context of tracing studies from the macaque area 44, which leads to the need to reconsider current models of speech motor control. Unlike the left, the right IFCop revealed increased connectivity of the inferior posterior ventral parcel and decreased connectivity of the posterior dorsal parcel with the anterior insula, particularly in stuttering boys. This divergent connectivity pattern in young children adds to the debate on potential core deficits in stuttering and challenges the theory that right hemisphere differences might exclusively indicate compensatory changes that evolve from lifelong exposure. Instead, early right prefrontal connectivity differences may reflect additional brain signatures of aberrant cognition-emotion-action influencing speech motor control.
This work was supported by the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders (grant R01DC011277 to
Chang). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIDCD or
the National Institutes of Health.
© The Author(s) 2022. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.