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Poster D15, Thursday, November 9, 6:15 – 7:30 pm, Harborview and Loch Raven Ballrooms

Resting-state connectivity during second language learning in deaf individuals

Velia Cardin1, Elena Kremnova2, Elina Zmeikina2, Anna Komarova3,4, Valeria Vinogradova1,3, Tatiana Davidenko3,4, Bencie Woll5;1University of East Anglia, 2Moscow Neurological Institute, 3Sign Language Centre, Moscow, 4Moscow State Linguistics University, 5University College London

Studies of neural reorganisation as a consequence of early deafness show that regions in the superior temporal cortex, which are usually considered to be involved in speech processing in hearing individuals, are involved in sign language processing in deaf individuals. Furthermore, we have shown that the posterior portion of the superior temporal cortex is also recruited for visual working memory processing in deaf individuals, independently of the linguistic content of the stimuli, and that there is an increase in resting state connectivity between posterior superior temporal cortex ( and frontoparietal regions. These results potentially suggest a general role in pSTC) control for these areas. In this study, we are interested in understanding whether early deafness results in reorganisation of brain networks involved in language learning. Specifically, we want to understand whether there is an increase in resting state connectivity between pSTC and frontoparietal regions during language learning. Neuroimaging studies of language learning typically concentrate on spoken language, usually in artificial lab conditions. Here we studied changes in resting state connectivity in groups of individuals as they learned a sign language as a second language during a 12-week course. There were two groups of participants: Deaf signers of Russian Sign Language and hearing native speakers of Russian who also knew Russian Sign Language. Participants were enrolled in a course equivalent to Level 1 British Sign Language. Resting state fMRI scans were collected before, during and after the BSL course. Preliminary results show significant resting state connectivity between right and left pSTC in both deaf and hearing individuals. In the group of hearing individuals, no differences in resting state connectivity between pSTC and fronto-parietal regions were found after learning BSL. Further analysis will be conducted in the group of deaf individuals to see whether language learning in deaf individuals changes connectivity between pSTC and frontoparietal regions.

Topic Area: Language Development

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