Center Papers

Bosworth, Petrich & Dobkins (2013)

Bosworth, R. G., Petrich, JAF, & Dobkins, K. R. (2013). Effects of attention and laterality on motion and orientation discrimination in deaf signers. Brain & Cognition, 82(1), 117-126. doi: 10.1016/j.bandc.2013.01.006 ____________________________________________________________________________________________

Previous studies have asked whether visual sensitivity and attentional processing in deaf signers are enhanced or altered as a result of their different sensory experiences during development, i.e., auditory deprivation and exposure to a visual language. In particular, deaf and hearing signers have been shown to exhibit a right visual field/left hemisphere advantage for motion processing, while hearing nonsigners do not. To examine whether this finding extends to other aspects of visual processing, we compared deaf signers and hearing nonsigners on motion, form, and brightness discrimination tasks. Secondly, to examine whether hemispheric lateralities are affected by attention, we employed a dual-task paradigm to measure form and motion thresholds under “full” vs. “poor” attention conditions. Deaf signers, but not hearing nonsigners, exhibited a right visual field advantage for motion processing. This effect was also seen for form processing and not for the brightness task. Moreover, no group differences were observed in attentional effects, and the motion and form visual field asymmetries were not modulated by attention, suggesting they occur at early levels of sensory processing. In sum, the results show that processing of motion and form, believed to be mediated by dorsal and ventral visual pathways, respectively, are left-hemisphere dominant in deaf signers.