Psycholinguistic Studies of Sign Language

video output of person signing

Signed languages present a natural opportunity to explore what aspects of language processing are universal and what aspects are affected by the particular characteristics of audition versus vision or by the specific constraints on manual versus vocal articulation. In this project, we use a variety of psycholinguistic methods to address the following questions:

  • Can models of speech production be applied to sign production?
  • How do signers monitor their language output to catch signing mistakes?
  • Does iconicity (the resemblance between a sign and its meaning) have an impact on language comprehension or production?
  • How is sign language phonology represented and accessed in the mental lexicon (our mental “dictionary”)?
  • How does speech perception differ from sign perception?
  • Do signers and speakers refer to space in the same way?
  • How do signers gesture?


This research is supported by the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (R01 DC101977) and by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R01 HD13249).

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