Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences


Speech Pathology and Audiology

First Advisor

Dr. Charles Van Riper

Second Advisor

Dr. Frank Robinson

Third Advisor

Dr. Bill Wensley

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


Chapter I

The Problem and Its Background

The Problem

The problem with which this study deals, involves the question: do adult stutterers and non-stutterers differ in their ability to separate auditorily a designated sound from a background of noise?

Review of Research

Research in the field of stuttering has covered a wide area. Stutterers' metabolism has been measured, their handedness determined, and their personalities evaluated. Recently, however, the research has taken a new direction. Since the early 1950's with the development of the discipline of cybernetics, it has dealt increasingly with stuttering in terms of auditory and proprioceptive feedback, self perception of voice, and automatic control of speech. The act of speaking itself, normal as well as pathological, has come to be considered a servomechanism with the auditory abilities of the speaker playing an all important part.1 Several studies have shown the importance of various charcteristics of hearing upon the flow of speech. Lee1 and many others found that stuttering-like behavior could be induced in normal speakers by simply delaying the air-conducted auditory feedback of their own voices a fraction of a second. Newby2 noted that people automatically raise the level of their voice if the noise level of the situation in which they are talking goes up. Black reports that changes in intensity and rate of speech occur when the size of a room and its reverberation time are altered,3 or when the speaker has been previously exposed to loud sounds.4 This knowledge of the changes that can be produced in normal speakers by altering their hearing has led to some research on the general auditory abilities of speech defective subjects. Berry,5 for example, found that nearly 60 per cent of 383 children with cleft palate had noticeable hearing losses. Harms and Malone1 indicate that the incidence of stuttering among the deaf and hard-of-hearing is almost negligible.