Stuttering is a speech disorder that is usually seen in children and sometimes in adults. It is a childhood-onset fluency disorder that affects an individual’s normal flow of speech. Contrary to popular belief, a person who stutters does not have any problems in forming thoughts coherently. They only face trouble in effectively relaying their exact thoughts through speech. For instance, a stutter might cause a person to repeat or prolong a word or a sound. They may even pause multiple times mid-speech when they encounter a difficult word or sound.
Treatment for Stuttering
People who stutter may be anxious or nervous in social situations, and this may cause them a lot of stress. One of the most effective ways to treat stuttering is to wear an electronic speech device, which is an aid made for improving speech.
These devices make use of a phenomenon called the ‘choral effect’, which helps people with a stutter to speak more fluently.
What Exactly is the Choral Effect?
The choral effect takes place when people who stutter speak or sing in unison with other people as part of a conversation. When they do this, their stutter is significantly reduced or eliminated. The choral effect is created by devices that allow the user to hear their own voice, but with a slight shift in pitch, time delay, or a combination of the two. This alteration creates the illusion of another person speaking at the same time as the user. The delay caused by the choral effect is measured in milliseconds and is manipulated into the stuttering device using advanced software. Devices use Delayed Auditory Feedback (DAF) and Frequency Altered Feedback (FAF) to create the choral effect.
In essence, the choral effect emulates nothing more than two people speaking at the same time. This effect paved the way for effective stutter therapy when it was found that people who stutter find it much easier to speak fluently when they have someone else speaking along with them.
How Does the Choral Effect Work?
The choral effect was seen to be effective on a majority of people who stutter, regardless of their linguistic content, audience size, or situation. The choral effect works as a form of direct imitation, which is an innate characteristic that all humans have. Our brains have something called ‘mirror neurons’, which are basically brain cells that link the observations and actions of others. The brain uses the same characteristic for remembering many of our learned behaviors and gestures, which is an essential requirement for infants and children in their learning stages.
When the anti-stuttering device is used by someone who stutters, the engagement of these mirror neurons allows them to fluently replicate speech. These devices essentially propose that the mirror neurons in the brain will override whatever causes stuttering in the brain, allowing the person to communicate their thoughts without any lapses.
Stuttering is a very common condition amongst both children and adults. Every person has the desire to speak fluently and engage with others without any difficulties. A stutter should not come in the way of this. Stuttering speech can be effectively treated or eliminated with the right professional speech therapy, and also with the use of modern fluency enhancing devices.