The role of language experience in neural reorganisation and functional connectivity in deaf individuals

Vinogradova, Valeria (2022) The role of language experience in neural reorganisation and functional connectivity in deaf individuals. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

[thumbnail of ValeriiaVinogradova - Final thesis.pdf]
Download (10MB) | Preview


Studies of deaf individuals, especially deaf children, suggest an association between language and cognition. Deafness also causes brain reorganisation in the auditory cortex and beyond, including changes in functional connectivity. It is often noted that such changes may be driven by either sensory or language experience, but the latter is rarely measured explicitly. The primary aim of this thesis is to investigate the effects of language proficiency and sensory experience on brain reorganisation and cognition in deaf individuals. The underlying hypothesis is that in addition to effects driven by deafness, language proficiency, shaped by varying developmental language experiences of deaf individuals, contributes to changes in neural activity and functional connectivity during different cognitive states and has a role in behaviour.

The thesis uses fMRI data acquired from deaf and hearing participants during executive function tasks (working memory, planning, switching, inhibition) and a resting-state session. The first study showed that language proficiency is associated with behavioural performance during switching and neural activity during the execution of the planning task, demonstrating its role in behaviour and brain reorganisation in deaf individuals during executive processing. Subsequent studies showed that state-dependent functional connectivity in deaf individuals can be associated with language proficiency, including changes between cognitive networks involved in task execution.

This work furthers our understanding of how language proficiency can shape brain organisation and cognition. It highlights the role that language, independently of its modality (signed or spoken), has in brain function and executive processing. It also demonstrates that associations between language and cognition are present and detectable in deaf adults. Language and cognition in deaf individuals are intertwined in both childhood and adulthood, and successful language development in any modality can support cognitive and neural processing behaviourally and in the brain.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Chris White
Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2023 10:22
Last Modified: 15 Mar 2023 10:22

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item