VL2 Provides References for President Cordano's Statement

April 11, 2016

Below is a selection of VL2 center publications and conference presentations that support the research in Gallaudet University President Bobbi Cordano's recent statement about the importance of early ASL/English bilingual language learning.

This collection draws from VL2's 15 national and international laboratories and the Petitto Brain and Language Laboratory for Neuroimaging at Gallaudet. While this page focuses on the work of VL2 scientists and researchers, many more references are available from other national researchers.  

Click here to view President Cordano's statement. 

"Speech is not privileged in the human brain, but is biologically equivalent to sign language. ASL is processed in the same areas of the brain as spoken English; these key brain areas are not specialized exclusively for sound, but are specialized in processing the patterns on which language is built."

e.g., Corina and Knapp, 2006; Corina, Hafer, and Welch, 2014; Corina, Lawyer, Hauser, and Hirshorn, 2013; Emmorey and Petrich, 2012; Emmorey, McCullough, and Weisberg, 2015; Emmorey, Xu, and Braun, 2011; Emmorey, Weisberg, McCullough, and Petrich, 2013; Kovelman, Shalinsky, Berens, and Petitto, 2014; Kovelman, Shalinsky, White, Schmitt, Berens, Paymer, and Petitto, 2009; Penhune, Cismaru, Dorsaint-Pierre, Petitto, and Zatorre, 2003; Petitto, Zatorre, Gauna, Nikelski, Dostie, and Evans, 2000.

"Early exposure to visual language confers significant visual processing advantages and maintains the infant brain's sensitivity to the language patterns it must experience within the required developmental timeframes."

e.g., Bavelier, Dye, and Hauser, 2006; Bavelier, Tomann, Hutton, Mitchell, Corina, Liu, and Neville, 2000; Belanger, Mayberry, and Rayner, 2013; Conference presentation Bosworth, Hwang, Corina, and Dobkins, 2013; Dye and Bavelier, 2010; Dye and Hauser, 2014; Hauser, Cohen, Dye, and Bavelier, 2007; Conference presentation Lieberman, Hatrak, and Mayberry, 2011; Mayberry and Lock, 2003; Morford and Carlson, 2011; Petitto, 2009; Petitto and Marentette, 1991; Petitto, Holowka, Sergio, Levy, and Ostry, 2001; 2004; Conference presentation Petitto, Langdon, and Stone, 2015; book chapter, Petitto, 2000; VL2 published Research Brief No. 7: Baker, S., 2011, “Advantages of Early Visual Language.”

"This exposure does not harm young deaf children or delay spoken language development, but keeps their brains' language tissue and systems 'alive' and propels the acquisition of spoken English." 

e.g., Allen, 2015; Conference presentation: Allen and Morere, 2016; Allen, Letteri, Choi, and Dang, 2014; Holowka, Brosseau-Lapré, and Petitto, 2002; Mayberry and Lock, 2003; Petitto and Holowka, 2002; Petitto, Katerelos, Levy, Gauna, Tétrault, and Ferraro, 2001. Regarding all children’s bilingual brains: Petitto, Berens, Kovelman, Dubins, Jasińska, and Shalinksy, 2012.

"Early exposure to ASL supports strong English speech skills and better vocabulary and reading skills compared to hearing peers learning only English."

(And, for all young bilingual children, early language exposure supports strong English skills and better vocabulary and reading skills compared to hearing peers learning only English.)

e.g., ASL-English Bilingual Children: Allen, 2015; Conference presentation Allen and Morere, 2016; Allen and Morere, 2012; Allen, Letteri, Choi, and Dang, 2014; Mayberry, Giudice, and Lieberman, 2011; Conference presentation McQuarrie and Enns, 2015; McQuarrie and Abbott, 2013; McQuarrie and Parrilla, 2014; Conference presentation Petitto, Langdon, and Stone, 2015; Petitto and Kovelman, 2003; Stone, Kartheiser, Hauser, Petitto, and Allen, 2015; VL2 published Research Brief No. 7: Baker, S., 2011, “Advantages of Early Visual Language.” 

ASL-English Bilingual Adults: Morford, Kroll, Pinar, and Wilkinson, 2014; Morford, Wilkinson, Villock, Pinar, and Kroll, 2011; Traxler, Corina, Morford, Hafer, and Hoversten, 2013; Kovelman, Shalinsky, Berens, and Petitto, 2014; Kovelman, Shalinsky, White, Schmitt, Berens, Paymer, and Petitto, 2009.

Spoken Language+Spoken Language Bilingual Children: Jasinska and Petitto, 2013, 2014; Kovelman, Salah-Ud-Din, Berens, and Petitto, 2015; Kovelman, Baker, and Petitto, 2008a; Kovelman, Berens, and Petitto, 2013.

Spoken Language+Spoken Language Bilingual Adults: Kovelman, Baker, and Petitto, 2008b; Kovelman, Shalinsky, Berens, and Petitto, 2008.

"These deaf children have the identical benefits found in children who are bilingual in other languages, including more robust use of the language areas of the brain, enhanced social and interpersonal understanding, and stronger language analysis, reading, and reasoning skills."

e.g. Allen, 2015; Allen and Morere, 2012; Allen, Letteri, Choi, and Dang, 2014; Freel, Clark, Anderson, Gilbert, Musyoka, and Hauser, 2011; Hauser, Lukomski, and Samar, 2013; Holowka, Brosseau-Lapré, and Petitto, 2002; Conference presentation Lieberman, Hatrak, and Mayberry, 2011; McQuarrie and Abbott, 2013; Morford and Carlson, 2011; Petitto, Katerelos, Levy, Gauna, Tétrault, and Ferraro, 2001; Petitto and Holowka, 2002; Pinar, Dussias, and Morford, 2011; Williams, Darcy, and Newman, 2015.

"Parents of young deaf children who are learning sign language do not need to achieve immediate and full fluency during this timeframe for their children to benefit from early exposure to ASL."

e.g., Allen, 2015; Allen and Morere, 2012; Allen, Letteri, Choi, and Dang, 2014.

"Studies show young deaf children exposed to signed languages achieve every milestone on the exact same timetable as young hearing children exposed to spoken languages. The signed and spoken language timing "windows" are identical."

e.g. Holowka, Brosseau-Lapré, and Petitto, 2002; Petitto and Holowka, 2002; Petitto and Kovelman, 2003; Petitto and Marentette, 1991; Petitto, 2009; and 1987; Petitto, Holowka, Sergio, Levy, and Ostry, 2001; 2004; Petitto, Katerelos, Levy, Gauna, Tétrault, and Ferraro, 2001; Allen, 2015; Allen, Letteri, Choi, and Dang, 2014.


(A number of these papers are available for download here)

Allen, T. E. (2015). ASL skills, fingerspelling ability, home communication context and early alphabetic knowledge of preschool-aged deaf children. Sign Language Studies, 15(3), 233-265.

Allen, T. E., Letteri, A., Choi, S. H., & Dang, D. (2014). Early visual language exposure and emergent literacy in preschool deaf children: Findings from a national longitudinal study. American Annals of the Deaf, 159(4), 346–358. 

Allen, T. E. & Morere, D. A. (2012). Underlying neurocognitive and achievement factors and their relationship to student background characteristics. In D. A. Morere & T. E. Allen (Eds.), Assessing literacy in deaf individuals: Neurocognitive measurement and predictors (pp. 231-262). New York: Springer Science & Business Media.

Allen, T. E. & Morere, D. A. (2016, April). Early access to language and the young deaf child’s acquisition of reading. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Washington, DC.

Bavelier, D., Dye, M. W. G., & Hauser, P. C. (2006). Do deaf individuals see better? Trends in Cognitive Science, 10, 512-518. 

Bavelier, D., Tomann, A., Hutton, C., Mitchell, T., Corina, D., Liu, G., & Neville, H. (2000). Visual attention to the periphery is enhanced in congenitally deaf individuals. Journal of Neuroscience, 20(17).

Bélanger, N. N., Mayberry, R. I. & Rayner, K. (2013). Orthographic and phonological preview benefits: Parafoveal processing in skilled and less-skilled deaf readers. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 66(11), 2237-2252.

Bosworth, R. G., Hwang, S. O., Corina, D., & Dobkins, K. R. (2013). Biological attraction for natural language rhythm: Eye-tracking in infants and children using reversed videos of signs and gestures. Paper presented at Theoretical Issues in Sign Language Research, London, United Kingdom.  

Corina, D. P., Hafer, S., & Welch, K. (2014). Phonological awareness for American Sign Language. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 19(4), 530-545.

Corina D.P., & Knapp H. (2006). Sign language processing and the mirror neuron system. Cortex, 42: 529–539.

Corina, D. P., Lawyer, L. A., Hauser, P. C., & Hirshorn, E. (2013). Lexical processing in deaf readers: An fMRI investigation of reading proficiency. Public Library of Science ONE, 8(1), e54696. DOI:10.137/journal.pone.0054696

Dye, M. W. G., & Bavelier, D. (2010). Attentional enhancements and deficits in deaf populations: An integrative review. Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience. Special Issue on Development and Plasticity of Multisensory Functions, 28(2), 181-192.

Dye, M. W. G., & Hauser, P. C. (2014). Sustained attention, selective attention, and cognitive control in deaf and hearing children. Hearing Research, 309, 94-102.

Emmorey, K., McCullough, S., & Weisberg, J. (2015). Neural correlates of fingerspelling, text, and sign processing in deaf ASL-English bilinguals. Language, Cognition, and Neuroscience, 30(6), 749-767. doi:10.1080/23273798.2015.1014924

Emmorey, K. & Petrich, J. A. F. (2012). Processing orthographic structure: Associations between print and fingerspelling. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 17(2), 194-204.

Emmorey, K., Weisberg, J., McCullough, S., & Petrich, J. A. F. (2013). Mapping the reading circuitry for skilled deaf readers: An fMRI study of semantic and phonological processing. Brain and Language, 126, 169-180.

Emmorey, Xu & Braun (2011) Neural responses to meaningless pseudosigns: evidence for sign-based phonetic processing in superior temporal cortex. Brain and Language. 2011;117(1):34–38. doi: 10.1016/j.bandl.2010.10.003.

Freel, B. L., Clark, M. D., Anderson, M. L., Gilbert, G., Musyoka, M. M., & Hauser, P. C. (2011). Deaf individuals’ bilingual abilities: American Sign Language proficiency, reading skills, and family characteristics. Psychology, 2, 18-23. 

Hauser, P. C., Cohen, J., Dye, M. W. G. & Bavelier, D. (2007). Visual constructive and visual-motor skills in Deaf native signers. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 12(2), 148-157.

Hauser, P. C., Lukomski, J., & Samar, V. (2013). Reliability and validity of the BRIEF-A for assessing deaf college students’ executive function. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 31, 363-374.

Holowka, S., Brosseau-Lapré, F., & Petitto, L. A. (2002). Semantic and conceptual knowledge underlying bilingual babies’ first signs and words. Language Learning, 52, 205-262.

Jasińska, K. & Petitto, L. A. (2014). Development of neural systems for reading in the monolingual and bilingual brain: New insights from functional near infrared spectroscopy neuroimaging. Developmental Neuropsychology, 39(6), 421-439.

Jasińska, K., & Petitto, L. A. (2013). How age of bilingual exposure can change the neural systems for language in the developing brain: A functional near infrared spectroscopy investigation of syntactic processing in monolingual and bilingual children. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 6, 87-101. doi: 10.1016/j.dcn.2013.06.005. 

Kovelman, I., Baker, S. A., & Petitto, L. A. (2008a). Age of first bilingual language exposure as a new window into bilingual reading development. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 11(2), 203-223.

Kovelman, I., Baker, S. A., & Petitto, L. A. (2008b). Bilingual and monolingual brains compared: An fMRI investigation of syntactic processing and a possible “neural signature” of bilingualism. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 20(1), 153-169.

Kovelman, I., Berens, M., & Petitto, L. A. (2013). Learning to read in two languages: Should bilingual children learn reading in two languages at the same time or in sequence? Evidence of a bilingual reading advantage in children in bilingual schools from monolingual English-only homes. Bilingual Research Journal. doi: 10.1080/15235882.2013.779618.

Kovelman, I., Salah-Ud-Din, M., Berens, M., & Petitto, L. A. (2015). “One glove does not fit all” in bilingual reading acquisition: Using the age of first bilingual language exposure to understand optimal contexts for reading success. Cogent Education. Vol. 2, Iss. 1, 2015. doi: 10.1080/2331186X.2015.1006504.

Kovelman, I., Shalinsky, M. H., Berens, M. S., & Petitto, L. A. (2008). Shining new light on the brain’s “Bilingual Signature:” a functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy investigation of semantic processing. NeuroImage, 39, 1457-1471

Kovelman, I., Shalinsky, M. H., Berens, M., & Petitto, L. A. (2014). Words in the bilingual brain: fNIRS brain imaging investigation of lexical repetition in sign-speech bimodal bilinguals. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 8(606). doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00606

Kovelman, I., Shalinsky, M. H., White, K. S., Schmitt, S. N., Berens, M. S., Paymer, N., & Petitto, L. A. (2009). Dual language use in sign-speech bimodal bilinguals: fNIRS brain-imaging evidence. Brain & Language, 109, pages 112-123

Lieberman, A. M., Hatrak, M., & Mayberry, R. I. (2011). The development of eye gaze control for linguistic input in deaf children. In N. Danis, K. Mesh, & H. Sung (Eds.), Proceedings of the 35th Boston University Conference on Language Development (pp. 391-403). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.

Mayberry, R. I., Giudice, A. A., & Lieberman, A. M. (2011). Reading achievement in relation to phonological coding and awareness in deaf readers: A meta-analysis. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 16(2), 164-188.

Mayberry, R. I. & Lock. E. (2003). Age constraints on first versus second language acquisition: Evidence for linguistic plasticity and epigenesis. Brain and Language, 87, 396-384.

McQuarrie, L. M, & Abbott, M. (2013). Bilingual deaf students’ phonological awareness in ASL and reading skills in English. Sign Language Studies (Special Issue on Assessment), 14(1), 61-81.

McQuarrie, L. M, & Enns, C. J. (2015, July). Bridging the gap: Investigating the effects of a signed language phonological awareness intervention on language and literacy outcomes in bilingual deaf children. Paper presented at the 22nd International Congress on the Education of the Deaf (ICED), Athens, Greece. 

McQuarrie, L. M., & Parrila, R. (2014). Literacy and linguistic development in bilingual deaf children: Implications of the “and” for phonological processing. American Annals of the Deaf, 159(4), 372–384.

Morford, J. P., & Carlson, M. L. (2011). Sign perception and recognition in non-native signers of ASL. Language Learning & Development, 7(2), 149-168.

Morford, J. P., Kroll, J., Piñar, P., & Wilkinson, E. (2014). Bilingual word recognition in deaf and hearing signers: Effects of proficiency and language dominance on cross-language activation. Second Language Research, 30(2), 251-271.

Morford, J. P., Wilkinson, E., Villwock, A., Piñar, P. & Kroll, J. F. (2011). When deaf signers read English: Do written words activate their sign translations? Cognition, 118(2), 286-292.

Penhune, V., Cismaru, R., Dorsaint-Pierre, R., Petitto, L. A., & Zatorre, R. (2003). The morphometry of auditory cortex in the congenitally deaf measured using MRI. NeuroImage, 20, 1215-1225.

Petitto, L. A. (2009). New discoveries from the bilingual brain and mind across the life span: Implications for education. Mind, Brain, and Education, 3(4), 185-197.

Petitto, L. A. (1987). On the autonomy of language and gesture: Evidence from the acquisition of personal pronouns in American Sign Language. Cognition, 27(1), 1-52.

Petitto, L. A. (2000). On the biological foundations of human language. In H. Lane & K. Emmorey (Eds.), The Signs of Language Revisited: An anthology in honor of Ursula Bellugi and Edward Klima (pp. 447-471). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Petitto, L. A., Berens, M. S., Kovelman, I., Dubins, M. H., Jasińska, K. & Shalinksy, M. (2012). The “Perceptual Wedge Hypothesis” as the basis for bilingual babies phonetic processing advantage: New insights from fNIRS brain imaging. Brain and Language, 121(2), 142-155. doi: 10.1016/j.bandl.2011.05.003.

Petitto, L. A. & Holowka, S. (2002). Evaluating attributions of delay and confusion in young bilinguals: Special insights from infants acquiring a signed and a spoken language. Sign Language Studies, 3(1), 4-33.

Petitto, L. A., Holowka, S., Sergio, L., & Ostry, D. (2001). Language rhythms in baby hand movements. Nature, 413(6), 35–36.

Petitto, L. A., Holowka, S., Sergio, L.E., Levy, B., & Ostry, D.J. (2004). Baby hands that move to the rhythm of language: Hearing babies acquiring sign languages babble silently on the hands. Cognition, 93, 43-73.

Petitto, L. A., Katerelos, M., Levy, B., Gauna, K., Tetrault, K., & Ferraro, V. (2001). Bilingual signed and spoken language acquisition from birth: implications for the mechanisms underlying early bilingual language acquisition. Journal of Child Language, 28, 453–496.

Petitto, L. A., & Kovelman, I. (2003). The Bilingual Paradox: How signing-speaking bilingual children help us to resolve it and teach us about the brain’s mechanisms underlying all language acquisition. Learning Languages, Spring Vol. 8, No. 3, pages 5-18.

Petitto, L. A., Langdon, C., & Stone, A. (2015, March). Early sign language experience and visual attention in young deaf readers: An eye tracking and fNIRS investigation. In K. MacDonald & A. Fernald (Chairs), New Approaches to Understanding Human Language: Insights from Neuroimaging and Behavioral Studies of Visual Language Learning. Paper delivered in the symposium at the Society for Research on Child Development (SRCD), Philadelphia, PA.

Petitto, L. A., & Marentette, P. (1991). Babbling in the manual mode: Evidence for the ontogeny of language. Science, 251, 1483-1496.

Petitto, L. A., Zatorre, R., Gauna, K., Nikelski, E. J., Dostie, D., & Evans, A. (2000). Speech-like cerebral activity in profoundly deaf people processing signed languages: Implications for the neural basis of human language. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 97(25), 13961-13966.

Piñar, P., Dussias, P. E., & Morford, J. P. (2011). Deaf readers as bilinguals: An examination of deaf readers’ print comprehension in light of current advances in bilingualism and second language processing. Language and Linguistics Compass, 5(10), 691-704.

Stone, A., Kartheiser, G., Hauser, P. C., Petitto, L. A., & Allen, T. E. (2015). Fingerspelling as a novel gateway into reading fluency in deaf bilinguals. PLoS ONE 10(10):e0139610. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0139610

Traxler, M. J., Corina, D. P., Morford, J. P., Hafer, S., & Hoversten, L. J. (2013). Deaf readers’ response to syntactic complexity: Evidence from self-paced reading. Memory & Cognition, 42(1), 97-111. doi:10.3758/s13421-013-0346-1

Visual Language and Visual Learning Science of Learning Center. (2011, January). Advantages of Early Visual Language (Research Brief No. 2). Washington, DC: Sharon Baker. 

Visual Language and Visual Learning Science of Learning Center. (2012, June). The Benefits of Bilingualism (Research Brief No. 7). Washington, DC: Sarah Fish and Jill P. Morford. 

Visual Language and Visual Learning Science of Learning Center. (2011, May). Visual Attention and Deafness (Research Brief No. 3). Washington, DC: Elizabeth Hirshorn.

Williams, J., Darcy, I., & Newman, S. (2015). Fingerspelling and print processing similarities in deaf and hearing readers. Journal of Language and Literature, 6(1), 56-65.

- Compiled by Dr. Laura-Ann Petitto, with assistance from Dr. Melissa Herzig and Victoria Mousley, undergraduate research assistant. 

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under grant number SBE-1041725. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.