Many adults who stutter presenting for speech treatment experience social anxiety disorder. The presence of mental health disorders in adults who stutter has been implicated in a failure to maintain speech treatment benefits. Contemporary theories of social anxiety disorder propose that the condition is maintained by negative cognitions and information processing biases. Consistent with cognitive theories, the probe detection task has shown that social anxiety is associated with an attentional bias to avoid social information. This information processing bias is suggested to be involved in maintaining anxiety. Evidence is emerging for information processing biases being involved with stuttering. This study investigated information processing in adults who stutter using the probe detection task. Attentional biases as assessed by the probe detection task may not be a characteristic of non-socially anxious adults who stutter. A vigilance to attend to threat information with high trait anxiety is consistent with findings of studies using the emotional Stroop task in stuttering and social anxiety disorder. The authors suggested that future research should investigate attentional processing in people who stutter who are socially anxious, and that it will also be useful for future studies to employ research paradigms that involve speaking. The authors recommended continued research to explore information processing and potential biases that could be involved in the maintenance of anxiety and failure to maintain the benefits of speech treatment outcomes.
Lowe, Robyn, Menzies, Ross, Packman, Ann, O’Brian, Sue, Jones, Mark, and Onslow, Mark. (2015). Assessing attentional biases with stuttering. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders. DOI: 10.1111/1460-6984.12187