History of Neurology

Neurological Sciences

, Volume 34, Issue 2, pp 231-237

First online:

Nature and nurture in stuttering: a systematic review on the case of Moses

  • Fidias E. Leon-SarmientoAffiliated withSmell and Taste Center, University of PennsylvaniaDepartment of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, University of PennsylvaniaUnit of Parkinson and Movement Disorders, Mediciencias Research Group, Universidad Nacional Email author 
  • , Edwin PaezAffiliated withFaculty of Medicine, Universidad Nacional
  • , Mark HallettAffiliated withHuman Motor Control Section, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), National Institutes of Health (NIH)

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Stuttering is a disturbance of normal fluency of speech whose pathophysiology is still not well understood. We investigated one of the most ancient speech disorders in the biblical person Moses who lived in approximately 1300 BC. To get the most complete medical and non-medical information on Moses, we did systematic searches in the Holy Bible using the Bible-Discovery v2.3© software (http://​www.​bible-discovery.​com) looking for verses containing the terms “Moses”, “Stuttering” and “Stutter”; and in PubMed/Medline database for manuscripts having the terms “Moses”, “Bible” and “Stuttering”. From the Bible search, 742 verses were found, of which 23 were relevant; three additional verses were found by hand search. Six papers discussing Moses’s pathology were found in the PubMed search. The analysis of ancient descriptions in the light of current research suggests that stuttering is the most likely pathology Moses had, with clear evidence for both genetic origin and environmental triggers. Further, it was found that Moses practiced some “sensory tricks” that could be used to relieve his speech disorder which are, to our knowledge, the first “tricks” that successfully modulated a movement disorder described in the medical literature.


Moses Stuttering Movement disorders Sensory trick Holy Bible