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Neural correlates of working memory for sign language
Linköping University, The Swedish Institute for Disability Research. Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Disability Research. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Cognition, Development and Disability. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, Karolinska Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.
2004 (English)In: Cognitive Brain Research, ISSN 0926-6410, Vol. 20, no 2, 165-182 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Eight, early bilingual, sign language interpreters participated in a PET study, which compared working memory for Swedish Sign Language (SSL) with working memory for audiovisual Swedish speech. The interaction between language modality and memory task was manipulated in a within-subjects design. Overall, the results show a previously undocumented, language modality-specific working memory neural architecture for SSL, which relies on a network of bilateral temporal, bilateral parietal and left premotor activation. In addition, differential activation in the right cerebellum was found for the two language modalities. Similarities across language modality are found in Broca's area for all tasks and in the anterior left inferior frontal lobe for semantic retrieval. The bilateral parietal activation pattern for sign language bears similarity to neural activity during, e.g., nonverbal visuospatial tasks, and it is argued that this may reflect generation of a virtual spatial array. Aspects of the data suggesting an age of acquisition effect are also considered. Furthermore, it is discussed why the pattern of parietal activation cannot be explained by factors relating to perception, production or recoding of signs, or to task difficulty. The results are generally compatible with Wilson's [Psychon. Bull. Rev. 8 (2001) 44] account of working memory.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2004. Vol. 20, no 2, 165-182 p.
Keyword [en]
Working memory, Sign language, Speech, Language modality, PET
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-13354DOI: 10.1016/j.cogbrainres.2004.03.002OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-13354DiVA: diva2:20473
Available from: 2005-09-21 Created: 2005-09-21 Last updated: 2017-11-06
In thesis
1. Modalities of Mind: Modality-specific and nonmodality-specific aspects of working memory for sign and speech
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Modalities of Mind: Modality-specific and nonmodality-specific aspects of working memory for sign and speech
2005 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Language processing is underpinned by working memory and while working memory for signed languages has been shown to display some of the characteristics of working memory for speech-based languages, there are a range of anomalous effects related to the inherently visuospatial modality of signed languages. On the basis of these effects, four research questions were addressed in a series of studies:

1. Are differences in working memory storage for sign and speech reflected in neural representation?

2. Do the neural networks supporting speech-sign switching during a working memory task reflect executive or semantic processes?

3. Is working memory for sign language enhanced by a spatial style of information presentation?

4. Do the neural networks supporting word reversal indicate tongue-twisting or mind-twisting?

The results of the studies showed that:

1. Working memory for sign and speech is supported by a combination of modality-specific and nonmodality-specific neural networks.

2. Switching between sign and speech during a working memory task is supported by semantic rather than executive processes.

3. Working memory performance in educationally promoted native deaf signers is enhanced by a spatial style of presentation.

4. Word reversal is a matter of mind-twisting, rather than tongue-twisting.

These findings indicate that working memory for sign and speech has modality-specific components as well as nonmodality-specific components. Modality-specific aspects can be explained in terms of Wilson’s (2001) sensorimotor account, which is based on the component model (Baddeley, 2000), given that the functionality of the visuospatial sketchpad is extended to include language processing. Nonmodality-specific working memory processing is predicted by Rönnberg’s (2003) model of cognitive involvement in language processing. However, the modality-free, cross-modal and extra-modal aspects of working memory processing revealed in the present work can be explained in terms of the central executive and the episodic buffer, providing the functionality and neural representation of the episodic buffer are extended.

A functional ontology is presented which ties cognitive processes to their neural representation, along with a model explaining modality-specific findings relating to sign language cognition. Predictions of the ontology and the model are discussed in relation to future work.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2005. 118 + papers I-V p.
Series
Linköping Studies in Arts and Science, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 337Studies from the Swedish Institute for Disability Research, ISSN 1650-1128 ; 18
Keyword
Cognition, sign language, working memory, fMRI, PET, disability research, Korttidsminne, teckenspråk
National Category
Human Computer Interaction
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-3942 (URN)91-85457-10-8 (ISBN)
Public defence
2005-10-21, Key 1, Key-huset, Campus Valla, Linköping, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2005-09-21 Created: 2005-09-21 Last updated: 2017-11-06Bibliographically approved

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Rönnberg, JerkerRudner, Mary

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