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Phonological processing in deaf signers and the impact of age of first language acquisition

MacSweeney, M; Waters, D; Brammer, MJ; Woll, B; Goswami, U; (2008) Phonological processing in deaf signers and the impact of age of first language acquisition. NEUROIMAGE , 40 (3) 1369 - 1379. 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2007.12.047. Gold open access

Abstract

Just as words can rhyme, the signs of a signed language can share structural properties, such as location. Linguistic description at this level is termed phonology. We report that a left-lateralised fronto-parietal network is engaged during phonological similarity judgements made in both English ( rhyme) and British Sign Language (BSL; location). Since these languages operate in different modalities, these data suggest that the neural network supporting phonological processing is, to some extent, supramodal. Activation within this network was however modulated by language (BSL/ English), hearing status (deaf/hearing), and age of BSL acquisition (native/non-native). The influence of language and hearing status suggests an important role for the posterior portion of the left inferior frontal gyrus in speech-based phonological processing in deaf people. This, we suggest, is due to increased reliance on the articulatory component of speech when the auditory component is absent. With regard to age of first language acquisition, non-native signers activated the left inferior frontal gyrus more than native signers during the BSL task, and also during the task performed in English, which both groups acquired late. This is the first neuroimaging demonstration that age of first language acquisition has implications not only for the neural systems supporting the first language, but also for networks supporting languages learned subsequently. (c) 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Type: Article
Title: Phonological processing in deaf signers and the impact of age of first language acquisition
Open access status: An open access publication
DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2007.12.047
Publisher version: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/ articles/PMC22782...
Keywords: deaf, sign language, plasticity, phonology, phonological, awareness, age of acquisition, inferior frontal gyrus, rhyming, pictures, INFERIOR PREFRONTAL CORTEX, TRANSCRANIAL MAGNETIC STIMULATION, CEREBRAL ORGANIZATION, NEURAL-NETWORKS, FUNCTIONAL MRI, HUMAN LANGUAGE, FMRI, SYSTEMS, BRAIN, ACTIVATION
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/11656
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