10 November 2009

The importance of access to language

Professor Gary Morgan is Deputy Director of the DCAL (Deafness Cognition and Language) research centre in London.

Presenter: Gary Morgan
Title: The importance of access to language: Conversational input and social cognition in deaf infants
Date: 18th November 2009
Time: 7pm - 9pm
Venue: Moray House School of Education, EH8 8AQ (how to get there)
BSL/English Interpreter: Kyra Pollitt

All welcome!

Download the poster

UPDATE: You can see some photos and video clips from the seminar at http://edsign34.blogspot.com/2009/11/video-clips-from-gary-morgans.html.

UPDATE: View the slides

Recent research supports the position that understanding of false beliefs is a fundamental cognitive capacity, present early in human development (as young as 13 months). But what is necessary for this capacity to develop?

Gary's team conducted two experiments, looking at deaf and hearing children aged 16 to 36 months. The children were grouped according to whether they or their parents were hearing or deaf. When the researchers tested whether the children were able to track the true and false beliefs of a cartoon character, only the deaf children with hearing parents were unsuccessful - children without early access to a language.

Next, they looked at how much language about the mind was used in conversations with deaf infants. Hearing mothers of deaf infants used words like “think”, “know”, and “want” far less than did their signing deaf counterparts.

These findings together support the position that access to a least a minimum of talk about the mind either in a spoken or signed language contributes decisively to the expression of Theory of Mind reasoning - even in very early human development.

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