The neurobiology of sign language and its implications for the neural basis of language

  title={The neurobiology of sign language and its implications for the neural basis of language},
  author={Gregory Hickok and Ursula Bellugi and Edward S. Klima},
THE left cerebral hemisphere is dominant for language, and many aspects of language use are more impaired by damage to the left than the right hemisphere. The basis for this asymmetry, however, is a matter of debate; the left hemisphere may be specialized for processing linguistic information1–3 or for some more general function on which language depends, such as the processing of rapidly changing temporal information4 or execution of complex motor patterns5. To investigate these possibilities… 

The Basis of the Neural Organization for Language: Evidence from Sign Language Aphasia

Data is presented that call into question the hypothesis that left hemisphere dominance for language can be reduced fully to domaingeneral processes.

Brain and Language a Perspective from Sign Language

The neural representation of language in users of American Sign Language.

Neural Organization of Language : Clues From Sign Language Aphasia

A central issue in understanding the neural organization of language is the extent to which this organization is dependent on the sensory and motor modalities through which language is perceived and

Signed and Spoken Language: A Unique Underlying System?

It is conjecture that under favorable circumstances, deaf children exploit sign input to gain entry into the language system with the same facility as hearing children do with spoken input.


Establishing which neural systems support processing of signed languages informs a number of important neuroscience and linguistic questions. First, what constitutes the ‘core language system’ what



The linguistic basis of left hemisphere specialization.

This analysis supports a linguistic basis of left hemisphere specialization in deaf and hearing individuals through lateralization of spoken language, signed language, and nonlinguistic gesture.

Language, modality and the brain

Left-hemisphere control of oral and brachial movements and their relation to communication.

  • D. Kimura
  • Psychology, Biology
    Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences
  • 1982
It is suggested that oral and manual apraxia, as well as aphasia, may be a manifestation of a basic motor selection problem in lesions of frontal and parietal lobes, but that the temporal region has some important acoustic-motor function in speech.

Neurobiological Basis of Speech: A Case for the Preeminence of Temporal Processing

In this paper we present evidence supporting the hypothesis that a basic temporal processing impairment in language-impaired children underlies their inability to integrate sensory information that

On the nature of phonological structure in sign language

The study of phonological structure and patterns across languages is seen by contemporary phonologists as a way of gaining insight into language as a cognitive system. Traditionally, phonologists

The signs of language

Introduction PART I: The Two Faces of Sign 1. Iconicity in Signs and Signing 2. Properties of Symbols in a Silent Language 3. Historical Change: From Iconic to Arbitrary PART II: The Structure of the

Neuromotor mechanisms in human communication

Introduction 1. Asymmetry 2. Noncortical systems in speaking 3. Cortical system in speaking 4. Oral movement control and speech 5. Manual praxis 6. Constructional ability 7. Hemispheric specialization for semantic processing.

What the hands reveal about the brain

What the Hands Reveal About the Brain provides dramatic evidence that language is not limited to hearing and speech, that there are primary linguistic systems passed down from one generation of deaf

The assessment of aphasia and related disorders

This small volume is designed as an introduction to the Boston Diagnostic Aphasia Test and deals briefly with the authors' concept of aphasia as a neuropsychological, psycholinguistic phenomena.