Deaf Cognition

Cognition refers to the mental processes that we use to make sense of and interact with our environment. These include problem solving, planning, reasoning, thinking, learning and memory. Here we are interested in understanding differences in the neural mechanisms that support cognitive processes in deaf and hearing individuals. If you are interested in taking part in this research, get in touch here!

These are our results so far:

Language experience and the deaf brain

This project focuses on how various language backgrounds of deaf individuals explain processes related to cognition and changes in brain organisation. We are especially interested in studying connectivity patterns between different parts of the brain. As of now, scientists know little about how having different language experiences, especially knowing languages in different modalities — signed and spoken — influence certain aspects of cognition and their neural mechanisms. We are trying to shed light onto how brain regions change and interact with each other, and how these processes related to the individual’s language experience. These are some of our findings.

Working memory in deaf individuals

Working memory is the type of memory that we use to keep information in mind while performing a task. For example, when asked to calculate (2 x 3) – 5, we use our working memory to keep the numbers in our head, keep track of the result of the multiplication, and keep track of the operations that need to be performed.

In this project, we are interested in understanding the effect of deafness on visual working memory mechanisms in the brain. Evidence suggest that deaf individuals perform better in certain visual working memory tasks. How does the brain reorganise to produce this, and why does this happen? Is it because of having to rely more strongly on vision? Is it because many deaf individuals use a sign language?

Help us finding out, by signing up for our research!

Adult-onset hearing loss, dopamine and speech perception

Adult-hearing loss affects a large proportion of society. Cochlear implantation has been beneficial in restoring hearing in such cases. However, there is still much variability in outcome, and there is a need for a simple post-implantation therapy that could significantly increase implantation success rate. The aim of the project, funded by Action on Hearing Loss, was to use the neuromodulator dopamine to develop an intervention therapy to improve speech perception in patients who receive a cochlear implant in adulthood.

Findings from this project can be found here: The effect of dopamine on the comprehension of spectrally-shifted noise-vocoded speech: a pilot study.

Sights and Signs

This project investigated how the experience of deafness and that of sign language knowledge impacts on neural reorganisation. This project was a collaboration with Linköping University, funded by Riksbankens Jubileums fond (P2008-0481:1-E), the Swedish Council for Working Life and SocialResearch (2008-0846), and the Swedish Research Council (Linnaeus Centre HEAD).

Results from this project can be found here:

Bilingualism in sign language and spoken language: a study of brain plasticity

This is a project in collaboration with Moscow State Linguistic University funded by the Russian Research Council. We are investigating language learning in deaf individuals and the changes in the brain associated to this phenomenon. More information about our project can be found here (in Russian!).