New Brain and Language Laboratory Investigates Language Acquisition


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fNIRS studies track brain blood movements: Image by Balapagos

Benefits of Functional Near Infra-red Spectroscopy

BL2  will employ functional optical brain imaging in its research by using Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS). This type of brain study technique offers a relatively non-invasive, safe, portable, and low-cost method of indirect and direct monitoring of brain activity. FNIRS uses sensors strapped to a person’s forehead that track reactions in blood flow patterns in the brain to varying stimuli.

In the language laboratory, fNIRS and other equipment will also be used to investigate and track the acquisition and neural processing of ASL, the optimal conditions for bilingual language development, and the effects of early bilingual language exposure on the developing brain and its functions. In addition, fNIRS will study the ways that the age of first bilingual language exposure can both impact and benefit the brain’s neural circuitry for language and higher cognition, and how young monolingual and bilingual children develop the capacity for reading.


National Science Foundation.  Gallaudet University Opens New Brain and Language Laboratory. Accessed December 14, 2011.

Grohol, J.  What is Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy?.  Psych Central. (2007). Accessed December 14, 2011.

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