The Signing Brain

fMRI of brain activity during ASL sign comprehension
fMRI of brain activity during ASL sign comprehension

The study of signed languages provides a unique tool for investigating the functional neural organization of language in the human brain. We use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), structural MRI, and event-related potentials (ERPs) to address the following questions:

  • Is the deaf, signing brain different from the hearing, speaking brain?
  • What is the nature of the bimodal bilingual brain?
  • Are there differences in brain anatomy between signers and speakers?
  • How is sign perception different from action perception?
  • How is language about space and motion processed by the brain?
  • Does using a signed language impact the neural organization for non-linguistic visual processing?


This research is supported by the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (R01 DC101977 and R01 DC014246) and by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R01 HD047736).

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