Hand dominance for signing: clues to brain lateralization of language. Academic Article uri icon


  • Virtually all right-handed individuals are left hemisphere dominant for language. Sign languages of the deaf provide an unusual vehicle for exploring the link between handedness and hemispheric specialization for language since in sign language the hands themselves are the language articulators. Performance of the right and left hand was examined in deaf native users of American Sign Language (ASL) for speeded production of one-handed signs and for shadowing of signed discourse. Opposite patterns of asymmetries in hand performance were found in right- and left-handers. However, left-handers were more flexible than right-handers in signing with their non-preferred hand. Furthermore, unusual patterns of hand use for sign were found in a deaf signer with a left hemisphere lesion, possibly indexing increased mediation of the intact hemisphere. Implications for brain organization of language in a visual-gestural mode are discussed.

published proceedings

  • Neuropsychologia

author list (cited authors)

  • Vaid, J., Bellugi, U., & Poizner, H.

citation count

  • 32

complete list of authors

  • Vaid, J||Bellugi, U||Poizner, H

publication date

  • January 1989