Cerebral lateralisation during signed and spoken language production in children born deaf.


Deafness, Cognition & Language Research Centre, University College London, WC1H 0PD, UK; Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, WC1N 3AZ, UK. Electronic address: [Email]


The effect of sensory experience on hemispheric specialisation for language production is not well understood. Children born deaf, including those who have cochlear implants, have drastically different perceptual experiences of language than their hearing peers. Using functional transcranial Doppler sonography (fTCD), we measured lateralisation during language production in a heterogeneous group of 19 deaf children and in 19 hearing children, matched on language ability. In children born deaf, we observed significant left lateralisation during language production (British Sign Language, spoken English, or a combination of languages). There was no difference in the strength of lateralisation between deaf and hearing groups. Comparable proportions of children were categorised as left-, right-, or not significantly-lateralised in each group. Moreover, an exploratory subgroup analysis showed no significant difference in lateralisation between deaf children with cochlear implants and those without. These data suggest that the processes underpinning language production remain robustly left lateralised regardless of sensory language experience.


Children,Cochlear implants,Deaf,Functional transcranial Doppler sonography,Language,Lateralisation,Sign language,fTCD,