Studies for SFA 1

Study 2

The impact of early visual language experience on visual attention and visual sign phonology processing in young deaf emergent readers using early-reading Apps: A combined eye-tracking and fNIRS brain imaging investigation. (Laura-Ann Petitto, PI)

PI: Laura-Ann Petitto, Gallaudet University


  • Rain Bosworth, University of California, San Diego
  • Adam Stone, Gallaudet University Graduate Student, Educational Neuroscience
  • Geo Kartheiser, Gallaudet University Graduate Student, Educational Neuroscience
  • Clifton Langdon, NSF-VL2/PEN
  • Melissa Herzig, NSF-VL2
  • Thomas Allen, NSF-VL2
  • Melissa Malzkuhn, NSF-VL2
  • Kaja Jasinska, Haskins Laboratory/Yale University

Population: Children aged 4-7 years

This study examines young (ages 4&7 years) sign-exposed and non sign-exposed children’s early entry into the reading process, especially reading in the context of complex competing moving visual stimuli containing both language and non-language information common to today’s ubiquitous reading and learning materials for young children (e.g., apps), for which there are virtual no scientific studies, and no studies of the young visual learner. One hypothesis to be tested is whether there are changes in the human visual perception system for linguistic stimuli due to early visual language exposure. Does early sign exposure have an enhanced impact on the child's ability to attend to parts of the visual linguistic stream containing rich visual sign phonological information, such as fingerspelling (FS)? Another hypothesis is whether FS has a facilitative impact on early reading acquisition due to the unusual strengthening that may follow from double visual FS+English letter/orthographic visual “phonological” decoding possibilities. The researchers investigate the role +/-sign exposed children (hearing, deaf, including, Cochlear Implanted children), with early vs late exposure to sign, and their sensitivity to visual sign phonology using combined Psycholinguistic Reading Paradigms while children simultaneously participate in Tobii Eye-tracking and fNIRS brain imaging, permitting powerful higher cognition and neuroanatomical/functional hypothesis testing involving the developing brain over time for reading in the young visual learner.