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LANGUAGE, COGNITION, AND THE BRAIN, Karen Emmorey (2001)

INSIGHTS FROM SIGN LANGUAGE RESEARCH

Once signed languages are recognized as natural human languages, a world of exploration opens up. Signed languages provide a powerful tool for investigating the nature of human language and language processing, the relations between cognition and language, and the neural organization for language. The value of sign languages lies in their modality. Specifically, for perception, signed languages depend upon high-level vision and motion processing systems, and for production, they require the integration of motor systems involving the hands and face. These facts raise many questions: What impact does this different biological base have for grammatical systems? For on-line language processing? For the acquisition of language? How does it affect nonlinguistic cognitive structures and processing? Are the same neural systems involved? These are some of the questions that this book aims at addressing. The answers provide insight into what constrains grammatical form, language processing, linguistic working memory, and hemispheric specialization for language.

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