Zoom meeting link: https://mit.zoom.us/j/91500053909
In this talk, I’ll describe some ongoing work examining the impact of early experiences on how the brain processes language. Does the timing of linguistic input impact later cortical language processing? I test this question by studying d/Deaf children and adults who experienced delayed access to sign language. Fluent speakers of American Sign Language (ASL), who experienced varying lengths of delay before initial language exposure, watched stories in ASL while undergoing functional MRI. BOLD responses were compared to people with access to ASL from birth, as well as to responses of hearing children and adults listening to stories in English. Language processing evoked activity in broadly similar cortical regions for all groups. The fine-grained pattern of activity was different for English versus ASL, but not for native vs delayed ASL. These results suggest that the development of cortical regions selective for language processing is somewhat robust to variation in the age of first exposure to language, at least for short delays in people who subsequently become fluent speakers.