The neural correlates of highly iconic structures and topographic discourse in French Sign Language as observed in six hearing native signers
Brain and Language. 2010-09-01; 114(3): 180-192
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1. Brain Lang. 2010 Sep;114(3):180-92. doi: 10.1016/j.bandl.2010.05.003. Epub 2010
The neural correlates of highly iconic structures and topographic discourse in
French Sign Language as observed in six hearing native signers.
Courtin C(1), Hervé PY, Petit L, Zago L, Vigneau M, Beaucousin V, Jobard G,
Mazoyer B, Mellet E, Tzourio-Mazoyer N.
(1)CI-NAPS, UMR, CNRS, CEA, Université de Caen et Université Paris Descartes,
« Highly iconic » structures in Sign Language enable a narrator to act, switch
characters, describe objects, or report actions in four-dimensions. This group of
linguistic structures has no real spoken-language equivalent. Topographical
descriptions are also achieved in a sign-language specific manner via the use of
signing-space and spatial-classifier signs. We used functional magnetic resonance
imaging (fMRI) to compare the neural correlates of topographic discourse and
highly iconic structures in French Sign Language (LSF) in six hearing native
signers, children of deaf adults (CODAs), and six LSF-naïve monolinguals. LSF
materials consisted of videos of a lecture excerpt signed without spatially
organized discourse or highly iconic structures (Lect LSF), a tale signed using
highly iconic structures (Tale LSF), and a topographical description using a
diagrammatic format and spatial-classifier signs (Topo LSF). We also presented
texts in spoken French (Lect French, Tale French, Topo French) to all
participants. With both languages, the Topo texts activated several different
regions that are involved in mental navigation and spatial working memory. No
specific correlate of LSF spatial discourse was evidenced. The same regions were
more activated during Tale LSF than Lect LSF in CODAs, but not in monolinguals,
in line with the presence of signing-space structure in both conditions. Motion
processing areas and parts of the fusiform gyrus and precuneus were more active
during Tale LSF in CODAs; no such effect was observed with French or in LSF-naïve
monolinguals. These effects may be associated with perspective-taking and acting
during personal transfers.
2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
PMID: 20542548 [Indexed for MEDLINE]