The Japanese written language comprises Kanji characters as well as two phonetic systems: Hiragana and Katakana. The aim of this study was to investigate brain areas associated with writing Hiragana and Katakana using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Fourteen healthy participants described pictures (written naming) and transcribed dictation (dictation). The middle frontal, middle temporal, angular and supramarginal gyri were activated while completing the written naming task in Hiragana, whereas the angular and supramarginal gyri were activated during the corresponding task in Katakana. The superior, medial frontal and middle occipital gyri were activated during transcription of dictation in Hiragana, and the superior frontal, superior and middle occipital gyri were activated when transcribing dictation in Katakana. These results indicate that the areas of the brain involving writing of Hiragana and Katakana comprise a common phonological pathway. Furthermore, activation of the temporo-parietal area during the written naming task was associated with phoneme-to-grapheme conversion. By contrast, the visual association area was significantly activated while transcribing dictation in the absence of visual stimuli. This finding suggests that a representational image of a spoken word is imagined during dictation.
Objectives: The study had two objectives: 1) to consider surgical effectiveness on adductive type spasmodic dysphonia (AdSD) performed by thyroplasty type II (TP2), 2) to assess how phonation changes according to the size of the titanium bridge (Tb) and treatment of the anterior commissure.
Subjects and Method: Twenty-eight women with AdSD who underwent TP2 at Tokyo Medical University Hospital were examined for Voice Handicap Index (VHI-10), maximum phonation time (MPT), pitch range, and perceptive judgment: strained (S), interruption (I), or tremor (T), before and after surgery.
Results: VHI-10 was significantly improved from a preoperative mean of 28.3 points to 13.9 postoperatively. S, I and T total scores (Total-SIT) significantly improved from a preoperative mean of 3.2 to 1.1, and pre- and postoperative VHI-10 and Total-SIT significantly correlated.
MPT decreased in dispersion and converged to physiological MPT. The size of Tb significantly correlated with postoperative S and T but not with preoperative factors. The change in pitch range showed no tendency, and voice deterioration seen in one case was suspected to be attributable to difficulty in treatment of the anterior commissure.
Summary: TP2 is useful for AdSD, but in cases of severe tremor, improvement of Total-SIT is insufficient even when using larger Tb.
Japan's School Health and Safety Act regulates that when administering hearing tests to young children, the right and left ears should be tested separately by audiometer. However, with students having diverse disabilities who are enrolled in schools for those with special needs, testing by audiometer is not always easy because a procedure of this kind is a psychological test which requires children to respond on their own. In this study, speech-language-hearing therapists measured the hearing ability of students enrolled in 9 schools for children with special needs in a particular prefecture. As specialists, they carried out the hearing tests using various methods: infant hearing test, etc. The results showed that they were able to measure a hearing threshold in 98% of the students, and 18% were found to be suspected cases of hearing disorder. Hearing disorders, along with other disabilities, exacerbate difficulty in communication and development of speech and language. We hope this test protocol will be widely adopted.
A questionnaire survey based on ICF was conducted concerning speech/communication activities and school life. The participants were 73 elementary school students who stutter. The questionnaire consisted of 50 questions about speech/communication activities, elementary school class life, class activities, school activities, and communication with teachers and classmates. The children were required to choose from a scale of five levels, "good" to "poor," how they evaluate their ability to deal with the point in question. The results indicated the following. (1) The items for which participants gave relatively negative responses were classes, class activities, and school activities. These items include situations requiring the students to talk in front of many people or to make complex and long utterances. However, for all items questioned, students who answered positively ("good") outnumbered those who answered negatively ("poor"). (2) There were moderate correlations between psychological problems associated with stuttering and some items related to class activities and school activities, but there was no item with a moderate or high correlation with stuttering speech symptoms. (3) There was a moderate correlation between speech/communication activities and school life.
An adult who stuttered severely underwent 3-month home-based speech shadowing training, and its effectiveness was verified. The subject shadowed arbitrary radio speech of his choice 10 minutes per day for three months. A follow-up inspection was conducted after 3 months. The effectiveness of the training was assessed using the Japanese Stuttering Test, the Japanese version of the Overall Assessment of the Speaker's Experience of Stuttering (OASES-A-J), questionnaires focused on psychological aspects (suffering due to stuttering, communication attitude, Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale-J), and self-assessment scales concerning speech. The frequencies of stuttering-like disfluencies in oral reading, picture explanation, and spontaneous speech were reduced after the training, and were maintained at the 3-month follow-up assessment. Responses to the questionnaires showed that the subject's communication difficulties in daily situations and suffering due to stuttering were markedly reduced after the training. His communication attitude became positive and his self-assessment improved after the training. Long-term home-based speech shadowing training can thus bring improvement in stuttering as well as in the psychological dimension for a stuttering adult.
We reported the process of language development in a case with Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder. This case was diagnosed early as having ANSD by AABR, ABR and OAE.
The patient had received aural habilitation therapy since infancy, but her language development had been profoundly delayed when we met her aged 5 years and 10 months. Hearing loss in the right ear was mild while that in the left ear was within the normal range. Speech audiometry scores also corresponded to the level of her pure tone average. However, it was clear she could acquire auditory information only poorly. Visual communication including fingerspelling had been adopted at her school for hearing-impaired children and had a major positive impact on her language development.
We found that the subject's ability in phonological operation was very low in spite of her pure tone average and good articulation, and we postulate that this might have to do with her ability in auditory temporal processing or temporal resolution. We concluded that for this type of ANSD, we should use visual signs, which help these patients to grasp phonological sequences of speech.
Children diagnosed as ANSD will increase as newborn hearing screening (NHS) becomes more widespread. We should establish evaluation methods for multiple types of ANSD in order to provide patients of each type the appropriate habilitation program from an early stage.
Phonological/phonetic factors of word onset are reported to affect stuttering frequency. If this is the case, no significant differences should be observed in stuttering frequency between long and short words. In this study, we investigated the effect of word length on stuttering frequency in Japanese school-age children who stutter. The participants were 17 Japanese children aged 7 to 11 who stuttered. We used 2syllable-2mora, 3syllable-3mora, 4syllable-4mora, and 5syllable-5mora nonwords whose bi-mora frequencies are lower than those of the stimuli used in previous research. Results indicated that the stuttering frequency with 5syllable-5mora words was significantly higher than with 2syllable-2mora words. Based on these results, we argued that there are children whose stuttering cannot be explained only by word onset factors.