Investigation of the three-generation KE family, half of whose members are affected by a pronounced verbal dyspraxia, has led to identification of their core deficit as one involving sequential articulation and orofacial praxis. A positron emission tomography activation study revealed functional abnormalities in both cortical and subcortical motor-related areas of the frontal lobe, while quantitative analyses of magnetic resonance imaging scans revealed structural abnormalities in several of these same areas, particularly the caudate nucleus, which was found to be abnormally small bilaterally. A recent linkage study [Fisher, S., Vargha-Khadem, F., Watkins, K. E., Monaco, A. P. & Pembry, M. E. (1998) Nat. Genet. 18, 168-170] localized the abnormal gene (SPCH1) to a 5. 6-centiMorgan interval in the chromosomal band 7q31. The genetic mutation or deletion in this region has resulted in the abnormal development of several brain areas that appear to be critical for both orofacial movements and sequential articulation, leading to marked disruption of speech and expressive language.
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