Scientific article
Open access

Neural networks mediating sentence reading in the deaf

Published inFrontiers in human neuroscience, vol. 8, no. 394
Publication date2014

The present work addresses the neural bases of sentence reading in deaf populations. To better understand the relative role of deafness and spoken language knowledge in shaping the neural networks that mediate sentence reading, three populations with different degrees of English knowledge and depth of hearing loss were included—deaf signers, oral deaf and hearing individuals. The three groups were matched for reading comprehension and scanned while reading sentences. A similar neural network of left perisylvian areas was observed, supporting the view of a shared network of areas for reading despite differences in hearing and English knowledge. However, differences were observed, in particular in the auditory cortex, with deaf signers and oral deaf showing greatest bilateral superior temporal gyrus (STG) recruitment as compared to hearing individuals. Importantly, within deaf individuals, the same STG area in the left hemisphere showed greater recruitment as hearing loss increased. To further understand the functional role of such auditory cortex re-organization after deafness, connectivity analyses were performed from the STG regions identified above. Connectivity from the left STG toward areas typically associated with semantic processing (BA45 and thalami) was greater in deaf signers and in oral deaf as compared to hearing. In contrast, connectivity from left STG toward areas identified with speech-based processing was greater in hearing and in oral deaf as compared to deaf signers. These results support the growing literature indicating recruitment of auditory areas after congenital deafness for visually-mediated language functions, and establish that both auditory deprivation and language experience shape its functional reorganization. Implications for differential reliance on semantic vs. phonological pathways during reading in the three groups is discussed.

  • Reading
  • Deaf
  • Native signers
  • Oral training
  • Sentence comprehension
  • Superior Temporal Gyrus
Citation (ISO format)
HIRSHORN, Elizabeth A. et al. Neural networks mediating sentence reading in the deaf. In: Frontiers in human neuroscience, 2014, vol. 8, n° 394. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00394
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal1662-5161

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