Early exposure to signing helps deaf kids on mental task | Science News

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Early exposure to signing helps deaf kids on mental task

Developing language skills from birth has benefits in adulthood, study finds

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1:21pm, February 13, 2016
little girl looking at signs

EARLY SIGNS  Exposure to signing before age 3 can boost brainpower in deaf children, a new study suggests.

WASHINGTON — Deaf children who learn to sign early may boost their brainpower in ways unrelated to language.

“Most deaf children are born to hearing families, and most hearing parents do not sign with their newborn deaf children,” clinical neuropsychologist Peter Hauser, who is deaf, explained February 12 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. “The deaf children, as a consequence, have very limited exposure to sign language,” signed Hauser, of Rochester Institute of Technology in New York.  

That paucity of input derails not only normal language development, but other aspects of mental performance, too, Hauser’s new research suggests. He and colleagues studied executive function — high-level mental effort that involves controlling attention, impulses and emotions — by having 115 deaf children draw lines

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