Priority Grants Research Fund

Abstracts of Priority Research Project Funded for FY 2014

Marlon Kuntze
Education
Insight from Child ASL on the questionable distinction between gesture and lexical sign
Christen Szymanski, Patrick Brice
Clerc Center; Psychology
Applying Evidenced Based Practices for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children with Autism and/or Developmental Disabilities at Home and in the Classroom
Lawrence Pick, Daniel Koo, Karen Garrido-Nag
Psychology; Hearing, Speech, Language Sciences
Cognitive and Electrophysiological Correlates of Phonological Processes in Deaf Undergraduate Readers

NEW GRANTS

Insight from Child ASL on the questionable distinction between gesture and lexical sign

Principal Investigator:
Marlon Kuntze
Department of Education, Gallaudet University

In this study, video data will be used to formulate a more complete understanding of linguistic development in young deaf children. Specifically, certain items and components will be extracted from the data and subjected to various linguistic analyses. These items and components will be chosen based on being commonly considered gesture or gestural in the field of ASL linguistics. Categories of these items/components are the following: emblems, classifiers, surrogates, and nonmanual components. Each of the categories will be assessed on how they behave linguistically in terms of phonology, morphology, semantics, stability of form, and iconicity.

The transcription of the data will be done using the Berkeley Transcription System (Slobin et al., 2001) as it has the power to codify each morpheme in a sign. The BTS uses the CHAT format (Mac Whitney, 2000), which will make it possible to use the CLAN software program to quantify the findings. The BTS will help show the different ways the items in question may be made more morphologically complex; what components are incorporated making the lexical item morphologically complex; and how items are capitalized upon to produce classifiers and surrogates.

Historically, the separation of gesture and language was conveniently based on the modality distinction between spoken language as aurally based and gesture as visually based. The dawn of sign language research as a study of visually-based languages paradoxically perpetuated the distinction between language and gesture. An important objective in early ASL research was to make a case that ASL is indeed a bona fide language, thus inadvertently maintaining the distinction. Currently, researchers like Kendon (2008), McNeill (1992), and Sweetser (2009) are arguing that gesture and language are a product of the same cognitive structure. In fact, when used in conjunction with speech, the potential of gesture to function as a linguistic unit is limited. Only by using gesture as the sole mode of communication, will its use become free and allowed to evolve and become more language-like (see McNeill, 1992). This phenomenon may account for the historical roots of many of the world’s signed languages (Armstrong, Stokoe, & Wilcox, 1994).

CONTINUED GRANTS

Applying Evidenced Based Practices for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children with Autism and/or Developmental Disabilities at Home and in the Classroom

Principal Investigator:
Christen Szymanski
Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center
Co-Investigator:
Patrick Brice
Department of Psychology, Gallaudet University

Children with Autism often face pervasive challenges in their abilities to interact with others, communicate their thoughts, wants, or needs effectively, regulate their emotions, and perform daily living skills independently. Despite an increased prevalence rate of hard of hearing children to have Autism, there remains a limited understanding of appropriate educational interventions, knowledge of general characteristics or symptoms, an understanding of social emotional development, and the influences that parents, caregivers and families have on these children in the classroom and at home. In order to address this gap, this research plans to investigate how principles of the only scientifically proven evidenced based treatment for children with developmental disabilities, Applied Behavioral Analysis may be utilized to facilitate learning for a child, while at the same time investigating the unique roles that families and teachers have in assuring success for deaf children with Autism and/or other developmental disabilities.

Cognitive and Electrophysiological Correlates of Phonological Processes in Deaf Undergraduate Readers

Principal Investigator:
Lawrence H. Pick, Ph.D., Associate Professor
Department of Psychology, Gallaudet University
Co-Investigator:
Daniel S. Koo, Ph.D., Assistant Professor
Department of Psychology, Gallaudet University
Co-Investigator:
Karen Garrido-Nag, M.Phil, M.S., Instructor
Department of Hearing, Speech, Language Sciences, Gallaudet University

Although much is known about the reading achievement levels of deaf individuals, we know less about how certain undergraduate students become strong readers. One prevailing assumption is that phonological awareness and processes, as well as working memory and executive functions play a critical role in reading achievement. Thus far, there is a paucity of neuropsychological data and neurophysiological evidence to support this claim in deaf individuals. This study will examine the cognitive and electrophysiological profiles of deaf undergraduate readers using American Sign Language as their primary mode of communication. A comprehensive battery of neuropsychological measures will be administered to gain a better understanding of the cognitive, linguistic, and reading profiles of strong versus weak readers. Further, Event Related Potential (ERP) recordings will be used to determine whether strong versus weak readers show amplitude and temporal differences in cortical regions known for phonological processing. A rhyme judgment paradigm will be employed to examine differential cortical responses at P200 and N400 indices for matched versus mismatched word pairs.


[Last modified: 2014.08.29 10:07:27. by Brian Showalter]

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