INSTEP is a double-blind randomised controlled trial at the University of Oxford, investigating if brain stimulation can improve speech fluency in those who stammer.

We are now recruiting for two studies:  

The project is funded by the Medical Research Council and led by Professor Watkins at the University of Oxford.


Speech production is a very complex skill, involving precise co-ordination of oral movements and monitoring of sensory feedback. We do not know exactly how the brain controls speech, or why this process is affected in some people, resulting in stuttering. Transcranial direct current brain stimulation (tDCS) has been used to improve speech skills in some people who have speech problems. In this study, we want to see if a five-day course of tDCS combined with fluency training will improve speech fluency more than the fluency training on its own. We also want to see if such improvements are maintained over a period of three months. By doing this study we hope to understand more about how different brain regions contribute to speech in people who stutter, and to learn more about effects of brain stimulation on speech skills, which may lead to new treatments for stuttering. To achieve these aims, we will use additional methods to measure activity in the brain and the muscles controlling speech.  These methods are called Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). We will use these methods at the beginning of the study and repeat them at the end to measure whether they have changed.

Continue reading “Background”

In the media

StutterTalk with Jen Chesters

Jen Chesters interviewed for StutterTalk about the results of her research trial recently published in Brain, which used brain stimulation to improve fluency in people who stutter.

BBC Radio Oxford – International Stammering Awareness Day

On International Stammering Awareness Day 2018, Professor Kate Watkins talked to BBC Radio Oxford about stammering/stuttering and the INSTEP Trial.

You can listen back here: (1:08)

The Guardian features INSTEP

Hannah Devlin, Science Correspondent from the Guardian talks to Jen Chesters and Naheem Bashir, one of the trial’s participants about INSTEP and the British Stammering Association.

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