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Cross-linguistic differences in the neural representation of human language: evidence from users of signed languages.

Authors
  • Corina, David P1
  • Lawyer, Laurel A
  • Cates, Deborah
  • 1 Cognitive Neurolinguistics Laboratory, Center for Mind and Brain, Department of Linguistics, University of California Davis Davis, CA, USA.
Type
Published Article
Journal
Frontiers in Psychology
Publisher
Frontiers Media SA
Publication Date
2012
Volume
3
Pages
587–587
Identifiers
DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00587
PMID: 23293624
Source
Medline
Keywords
License
Unknown

Abstract

Studies of deaf individuals who are users of signed languages have provided profound insight into the neural representation of human language. Case studies of deaf signers who have incurred left- and right-hemisphere damage have shown that left-hemisphere resources are a necessary component of sign language processing. These data suggest that, despite frank differences in the input and output modality of language, core left perisylvian regions universally serve linguistic function. Neuroimaging studies of deaf signers have generally provided support for this claim. However, more fine-tuned studies of linguistic processing in deaf signers are beginning to show evidence of important differences in the representation of signed and spoken languages. In this paper, we provide a critical review of this literature and present compelling evidence for language-specific cortical representations in deaf signers. These data lend support to the claim that the neural representation of language may show substantive cross-linguistic differences. We discuss the theoretical implications of these findings with respect to an emerging understanding of the neurobiology of language.

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