Inhibition deficit in cluttering

Research shows that cluttering speakers have a so-called cluttering inhibition deficit: once they have started speaking, it can be difficult for them to keep their speech rate in check, and even to stop speaking. There is evidence that this inhibition problem originates in the brainstem, the part of the brain that controls the central nervous system.

Sudden spurts in speech

The deficit can manifest itself in a too high or an irregular speech rate. At an irregular rate of speech, sudden accelerations in the speech emerge. These spurts arise because cluttering speakers underestimate the time they need to express their thoughts. This disrupts their language planning and makes it harder for them to get their words out of their mouths smoothly. Typical speakers and people who stutter do not suffer from this inhibition deficit. They therefore are better able to continue speaking at a more constant pace. It explains why they normally do not experience language planning problems.

There is not much you can do about the inhibition deficit. You are born with it. But you can learn to deal with it better. So for those who find it difficult to control their speech, it is good to know that there are ways to do so. Read more about it in our book Too fast for words. We also coach people who clutter in how to deal more effectively with their speech impediment and its causes, such as the inhibition deficit.

‘I often have spurts in my speech. That mostly happens when I am enthusiastic. Sometimes I don’t have control over these spurts at all; as if they decided to lead a life of their own. Then my speech rate shoots up at once and accelerates even more’.