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Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to compare the cerebral organization during sentence processing in English and in American sign language (ASL). Classical language areas within the left hemisphere were recruited by both English in native speakers and ASL in native signers. This suggests a bias of the left hemisphere to process natural languages independently of the modality through which language is perceived. Furthermore, in contrast to English, ASL strongly recruited right hemisphere structures. This was true irrespective of whether the native signers were deaf or hearing. Thus, the specific processing requirements of the language also in part determine the organization of the language systems of the brain.


Journal article



Publication Date





1537 - 1542


Adult, Brain, Brain Mapping, Deafness, Functional Laterality, Hearing, Humans, Language, Learning, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Sign Language, United States