Professor Bencie Woll FBA, Professor of Sign Language and Deaf Studies and Director of DCAL, University College London
‘What sign languages can tell us about the brain’
Recorded at the British Academy Soirée, Tuesday 28 June 2016
When we think of human language we think of speech and spoken language. But there is another kind of human language – sign language – spontaneously developed by and in Deaf communities. Despite existing for centuries, sign languages only began to be studied in the middle of the 20th century. As well as being valuable in its own right, by illuminating Deaf lives, languages, communities and cultures, sign language offers the unique opportunity to explore how the brain processes language, and the contribution of the channels in which language is perceived and produced to how language evolved and is structured. This talk introduces sign language and the communities of its users, and then explore what we can learn about language and the brain from the study of sign language.