Deafness and Cognitive Neuroscience

Understanding the difference between how the brains of Deaf people and hearing people work is helping researchers at DCAL piece together the building blocks of language. When a person communicates in sign language or a spoken language or when they read a written language specific parts of the brain are used.

This important research is not just of theoretical interest. It is helping DCAL develop new ways of working with deaf children and adults. For example, deaf children often have problems learning to read. By looking at the brain we can understand why and develop educational interventions that are more effective.

One way we can see differences between how the brains of deaf and hearing people work is by using functional Trans-Cranial Doppler (fTCD). This identifies blood flow velocity to the two sides of the brain, showing which parts are more active during certain tasks. DCAL is currently looking at blood flow velocity in hearing and Deaf adults using fTCD and will start studying children next year.’