Hemispheric specialization for English and ASL: Left invariance-right variability

Daphne Bavelier, David Corina, Peter Jezzard, Vince Clark, Avi Karni, Anil Lalwani, Josef P. Rauschecker, Allen Braun, Robert Turner, Helen J. Neville

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to compare the cerebral organization during sentence processing in English and in American sign language (ASL). Classical language areas within the left hemisphere were recruited by both English in native speakers and ASL in native signers. This suggests a bias of the left hemisphere to process natural languages independently of the modality through which language is perceived. Furthermore, in contrast to English, ASL strongly recruited right hemisphere structures. This was true irrespective of whether the native signers were deaf or hearing. Thus, the specific processing requirements of the language also in part determine the organization of the language systems of the brain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1537-1542
Number of pages6
Issue number7
StatePublished - 11 May 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Hemispheric specialization
  • Neurobiology of language
  • Plasticity
  • Sentence processing
  • Sign language
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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