FYI:GENDER:NeuroSci: Re: Sign and Brain Trauma (fwd)

Eugene Leitl (
Mon, 19 Jan 1998 22:56:31 +0300 (MSK)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 19 Jan 1998 14:24:34 -0700
From: Matt Fraser <>
To: NeuroSciences List <>
Subject: NeuroSci: Re: Sign and Brain Trauma

Sent by: Matt Fraser <>

In a private message, I had asked Sherman Wilcox about possible sex
differences, as are found following unilateral brain trauma with
spoken language, in signed language. He replied:

>I don't know that there are enough sign aphasics to allow us to
>come to useful conclusions about M/F differences. Maybe it has been
>studied. And I think there are some studies of late learners.
>Again, it's not my area, but I can just envision that there are some
>pretty big factors that are different enough that it makes it hard
>to do decent comparisons.
>For example, what about age of deafness. Or, how early was ASL
>acquired (since about 90% of deaf children have hearing parents who
>don't sign, the whole question of "native" language is skewed). Or
>this one. One of the most famous cases in the Poizner et al study
>is of this very old (now dead) deaf man. Though he gets reported as
>"L" or something like that, lots of people knew who he was -- he
>was a pretty famous leader in the deaf community who spent lots of
>his life at Gallaudet University.
>Poizner et al report that he lost his grammatical abilities in ASL
>as a result of his aphasia. Because he was a respected leader, and
>deaf, and a signer, people *assume* that he signed what we now call
>ASL. But I know of at least one other deaf person, also a very
>respected person, who says that this guy, while he was eloquent,
>never really used ASL. But to understand what this means you have
>to know about signing styles of older people, educational practices
>from 60 years ago, etc. Add to this the fact that this guy was born
>hearing, and in Russia (I believe), and probably did learn Russian
>before he went deaf and moved here (where he surely learned English
>quite well). It's a mess!

I still think that it might be interesting to know if, whether or not
sign was the primary language, there are differences in
lateralization of function in male and female signers, and whether
males suffer more from left hemispere trauma than females, along with
the associated sex difference in recovery of function. Anyone?