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Towards An Animal Model of Stuttering
Tuesday, February 23, 2016 @ 8:00 AM-5:00 PM
Kirkwood High School Keating Theater, 801 West Essex, Kirkwood, MO 63122 + Google Map
Registration not required. FREE and OPEN to Junior Academy members, middle and high school students and adults. Parking is free in Kirkwood High School lots.
Featured Speaker: Terra Barnes, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Washington University in St. Louis
Speech is an innate human trait. The genes and neural circuitry that have evolved to make speech seem effortless remain largely unknown. One way to study the genetic and neural underpinnings of speech is to study when the system goes awry — to study vocal communication disorders. There are, however, few such disorders that have a known genetic component. One exception is stuttering, which has been linked to mutations in the pathway through which lysosomal enzymes are sorted into lysosomes, the cell’s waste disposal and digestion system.
Approximately 15% of people who stutter, do so because one of their genes has a mutation. In fact it can be due to a mutation in one of three genes that are involved in lysosomal enzyme sorting.
We wanted to see if “breaking” the same gene in mice, could cause mice to vocalize abnormally. It turns out mice are vocalizing all the time, just in a frequency so high we can’t hear. But how do you tell if a mouse is vocalizing abnormally if you don’t speak “mouse”?
We first had to analyze the vocalizations (speech) of people who stutter and compare them to people who don’t stutter. Then we were able to apply these same analyses to mouse vocalizations. It turns out that there are many similarities between the mice with this mutation and the humans with this mutation.
Toward An Animal Model of Stuttering is a partnership presentation of The Academy of Science St. Louis and the Kirkwood School District.