Stuttering and Biden. He deals with it just fine.

A Fish Called Wanda. Stuttering scene.

I stutter, so what I say is based on experience. First off, there are no personality or behavior traits for stutterers. Stuttering doesn’t indicate anything else about a person. It is in part clearly genetic. Also, stutterers have differences in their temporal cortexes compared to normal speakers. Basically, we’ve learn to route around it, often quite successfully.

The stuttering sequence in A Fish Called Wanda was the first time I had a belly laugh at my own stuttering. I thank them for it. In it, John Cleese has to get the name of a hotel from Michael Palin who has the most horrendous stuttering block ever, and finally has to write the name down. Then, he says the name perfectly, without stuttering. This had me on the floor laughing the first time I saw it because this really does happen. (Palin’s father stuttered, that’s why he could do it so well. The touchstone of humor can indeed be pain.)

Stuttering and maintaining fluency

Even if a stutterer is currently fluent, they are always monitoring their speech a few words ahead to determine if they might stutter. If so, then they change what they are going to say. Sometimes they stutter on a word then instantly change to another less-stutterable word.

If you think, gosh, that sounds like a lot of work, why yes it is, I suppose. It is also my (and presumably Biden’s) normal. We don’t know anything else. Like Biden, my stuttering is mostly a minor annoyance now. Being tired or stressed can trigger it. When Biden spoke on Friday night he was clearly exhausted and stuttered several times. By contrast, he appeared much more rested during his victory speech Saturday night and only stuttered once. There were a couple of minor bobbles in speech which he recovered from fast and most probably didn’t notice.

So, stuttering will have little or no impact on Biden. He’s clearly learned how to deal with it.

Causes of stuttering

What causes stuttering? There are four factors most likely to contribute to the development of stuttering: genetics (approximately 60% of those who stutter have a family member who does also); child development (children with other speech and language problems or developmental delays are more likely to stutter); neurophysiology (recent neurological research has shown that people who stutter process speech and language slightly differently than those who do not stutter); and family dynamics (high expectations and fast-paced lifestyles can contribute to stuttering).

What is the ratio of males to females who stutter? Stuttering affects four times as many males as females.

Stutterer’s brains in speech areas are different

In the vast majority of the stutterers we scanned, there seems to be a large portion of the connection projecting into the temporal cortex, an area of the brain also critical for speech perception.

…the two studies taken together demonstrate two critical points: A neuro-anatomic abnormality exists in the brains of people who stutter, yet they can learn to speak fluently in spite of it.

Grafton and the paper’s lead author, Matt Cieslak, a graduate student in Grafton’s lab, discovered abnormalities of the arcuate fasciculus, one of the key pathways that connect the language areas of the brain.

Once treated as a psychological or emotional condition, stuttering can now be traced to brain neuroanatomy and physiology, according to the researchers. “We’re one of a number of groups making a strong case that there is something fundamentally different about the brains of people who stutter.”