LingLang Lunch (11/4/2015): Matt Hall (University of Connecticut)

Keeping the hands in mind: Executive function and implicit learning in deaf children

The hands can reveal a lot about the mind. In particular, sign language manifests the human capacity for language in a distinct way, and provides unique opportunities to ask both basic and translational questions about language and cognition. In this talk, I look to Deaf native signers as a way of testing recent claims about the impact of auditory deprivation on cognitive development in two domains: executive function and implicit learning. Results are inconsistent with the auditory deprivation hypothesis, but consistent with the language deprivation hypothesis. I’ll then consider the translational implications of these findings, identify remaining gaps in our empirical knowledge, and discuss my plans for addressing those gaps.