Unlocking a medical mystery: Stutteringhttp://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/02/10/stuttering.genes.cell/
(CNN) -- A new study brings researchers one step closer to unraveling a medical mystery that has perplexed scientists for thousands of years: What causes people to stutter?
Research appearing in Wednesday's New England Journal of Medicine reveals three genetic mutations in the brain cells of people who stutter. The cells are located in the part of the brain that controls speech, which suggests that genes could play a big role in the disorder.
"People have looked for a cause of stuttering for 5,000 years," said Dennis Drayna, a researcher at the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, and a co-author of the study. "Many, many things have been suggested as a cause of stuttering. None of them have turned out to be true. For the first time today, we know one of the causes of this disorder."
"These mutations affect a process inside cells that degrades things that the cells don't need anymore," said Drayna. "This process is called the garbage can, or more like the recycling bin, of the cell. When this process gets interrupted, the cell goes haywire, and that causes problems."
These problems, according to the study, may explain why some people stutter.