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date: 11 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Representations of spoken and signed languages are discussed in relation to neural pathway models of language processing. Data from bilingual subjects motivate the need for neural structures involved in language control and selection. Neuroimaging studies of deaf and hearing bilinguals for whom at least one language is signed are reviewed. Studies of proficient hearing bimodal bilinguals indicate overlap in cortical regions for sign and spoken language comprehension. Data from deaf bilinguals contrast patterns of activation for sign language and written language. In these studies sign language processing engages neural pathways similar to those seen in spoken language processing; however, involvement of parietal regions indicates responsivity to spatial and articulatory demands of signed languages. The appearance of right-hemisphere temporal lobe involvement may be a signature of deafness. Studies of sign languages can provide deeper understanding about how neural pathways for language are shaped by linguistic, cognitive, and signaling modality.

Keywords: neurolinguistics, bilingualism, deaf, signed language, language modality

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