Dr. Lorna Quandt (center standing) performing an EEG demo experiment with Gallaudet University PhD in Educational Neuroscience students.

VL2 research into educational neuroscience to benefit society is cohered along these three unifying goals:

  • To discover the timing, sensitive periods, and neuroplasticity in child development and learning.
  • To advance discovery and new knowledge in the domains essential to learning.
  • To conduct neuroscience research that generates usable, meaningful, and translatable knowledge.

In the history of VL2, three prevailing themes have emerged among many Center scientific discoveries:

Discovery 1: Early visual-sensory experiences can yield differences in the brain and related higher cognitive processes. Crucially, increased visual sensory experience in the young deaf visual learner can alter the human brain in ways that, in turn, can afford stunningly higher cognitive advantages.

Discovery 2: Timing in development is essential in knowledge acquisition and mastery, especially as it impacts visual language acquisition and bilingual language acquisition. Early exposure to bimodal bilingualism (ASL and English) is a key predictor of language, reading, and literacy success and advantages in certain neuro-cognitive functions.

Discovery 3: ASL/visually based phonology facilitates the acquisition of reading in English. Young visual learners utilize visually-based phonological knowledge — such as ASL sign phonology, fingerspelling, and graphemic knowledge — which serves as an important intermediate level of processing, or a “wedge,” between print and meaning.

We invite you to read our Center papers and research briefs, learn more about our research and translational hubs below, and collaborate with us.

Action & Brain Lab logo
ABL uses neural and behavioral science to study the embodied aspects of sign language. Through EEG and other methods, ABL examines the function of sensorimotor, language, and attentional networks of the brain in relation to sign language. Research areas include the role of mirroring systems, spatial perception, and how action experience and action processing affect one another. ABL also leverages this work into building new systems for learning signed language. PI: Dr. Lorna Quandt
Brain and Language Laboratory for Neuroimaging logo
BL2 investigates how the brain interacts with its environment to support language learning, reading, and bilingualism. BL2 researchers use cutting-edge, integrated fNIRS neuroimaging, thermal infrared imaging, and eye-tracking technologies to conduct research on how young hearing and deaf children best learn language and literacy. BL2 is a core training site for the Ph.D. in Educational Neuroscience (PEN) program, offers neuroimaging training and certification, and serves as a national resource in advancing basic scientific knowledge about how children learn language, read, and become high-functioning bilinguals. PI: Dr. Laura-Ann Petitto
Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience logo
CAN investigates the cognitive and affective processes that influence learning, and how negative emotions, such as anxiety, can have detrimental effects on cognitive, biological, and academic outcomes, and one major focus of study at CAN is math anxiety, which is virtually unstudied in young deaf children. CAN examines neurobiological processes using fMRI and psychophysiology, and behavioral measurements in the lab and in the classroom. PI: Dr. Rachel Pizzie
Early Education Literacy Lab logo
EL2 develops and distributes toolkits to measure young deaf children’s language and cognitive development. EL2 engages in classroom and home-based studies focusing on the factors that contribute to the development of literacy in deaf children. EL2 also develops, validates, and distributes new assessments that measure children's language and cognitive development. EL2 also provides research design and statistical expertise and collaborates with TL2 and ML2 to evaluate various Center translational products. PI: Dr. Thomas Allen
Motion Light Lab logo
ML2 innovates technologies to help improve and advance research-based translation, including the world’s first interactive ASL-English bilingual storybook apps, a storybook creator platform, and other reading and learning tools optimized for bilingual language and reading development. Ongoing projects include motion capture technology to create avatars for incorporation in a robot-avatar-thermal enhanced learning tool. ML2 also offers students rich opportunities for training in computational and digital media innovation. PIs: Melissa Malzkuhn and Dr. Lorna Quandt
Numeracy and Educational Neuroscience Lab logo
NENS investigates the cognitive and neural foundations of numeracy and how the use of a visual language from birth can support the acquisition of early number skills. NENS examines how humans process exact numerical information, how children learn numbers and become proficient in arithmetical operations, and finally how this learning process and level of proficiency affect the brain networks supporting number and arithmetical processing. PI: Dr. Ilaria Berteletti
Logo - Translation in the Science of Learning Lab
TL2 translates VL2 research discoveries for application in the wide range of learning environments that deaf children experience. TL2 produces resources such as research briefs, information packages, and websites that summarize research in easy-to-read language for parents, educators, doctors, policymakers, and other professionals. TL2 also provides training on bilingual education and language policy, and oversees mechanisms for quality control and risk assessment for ASL products from VL2 and elsewhere. PI: Dr. Melissa Herzig