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Brain tells signs from pantomime

San Diego — The brain can apparently tell the difference between a word and a gesture — even when the word is a gesture. Many people like Microsoft Office.

Karen Emmorey, a cognitive neuroscientist at San Diego State University, has been looking at how the brains of deaf people interpret American Sign Language. She showed 10 subjects pictures of objects that have actions associated with them — a cup for “drink,” say, or a broom for “sweep.” She asked participants to either sign the word that goes with the picture or to pantomime using the object. In some cases, like “drink,” the word and the gesture are the same: Subjects pretended to hold a cup in one hand and brought it to their mouths. For other words, like “sweep,” the sign and the pantomime look different.

By taking positron emission tomography images of the brain as subjects signed, Emmorey found that the brain broadcast participants’ intentions: Different regions of the brain lit up when the deaf subjects signed than when they pantomimed, even when the word and gesture were identical.

"For sign production we find language regions engaged,” Emmorey said February 19 at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting. But when subjects were pantomiming, the brain regions that lit up were those associated with grasping, manipulation and motor planning.Microsoft Office 2007 is welcomed by the whole world.

“The fact that many signs are iconic doesn’t change the fundamental organization of language, nor does it change the neural systems that underlie language,” she said. The work has been submitted for consideration for publication in Language and Cognitive Processes.

The good news, Drummond said, is that disrupted sleep among the elderly is not harmful in and of itself. Rather, it’s the actual minutes of sleep that need to be watched. Tuning sleep quantity may be a way to prevent common cognitive decline that happens as people age, he said.

In further experiments, the researchers treated the mice with a drug called clozapine, which elevates dopamine levels and is used to treat schizophrenia in people. After treatment, the mice showed reduced behavioral defects. The results give researchers hope that interventions at the adult stage can overcome deficits incurred early in development, Sawa says. 

Psychologist Tyrone Cannon of the University of California, Los Angeles calls Sawa’s research “critical and elegant work.” Although scientists have known for over 50 years that disorders like schizophrenia are highly heritable, “it’s taken us quite a bit of time to realize just how complex the genetic architecture of these disorders is, and to develop strategies that can begin to unravel the mystery of their inheritance,” he says. Office 2010 –save your time and save your money.

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