CRL Talks

We have OPEN spots below! Please let us know which week(s) you would be interested in volunteering for!

Winter Quarter 2023

CRL Talks are Tuesdays at 4:00 p.m. (PST, GMT -08:00) in CSB 280 or via Zoom.  For now there will not be a Happy Half Hour prior to the in-person meeting, but we may have it at future in-person meetings this quarter if enough are in attendance.

January 31

Words and Signs: How are they processed in the minds of deaf signers?

Zed Sehyr

San Diego State University

Many congenitally deaf and hard-of-hearing people process language visually through signs and written words. My work investigates how the sensory-perceptual and linguistic experiences of deaf signers’ shape language processing. I first present two recent studies that identify a unique reading profile for skilled deaf readers using statistical modeling (Study 1) and event-related potentials (ERPs) (Study 2). Study 1 assessed reading comprehension in ~200 hearing and deaf adults (matched for reading skill) and revealed a) phonological ability predicted reading scores for hearing, but not deaf readers and b) orthographic skill (spelling and fingerspelling ability) as well as vocabulary size were critical to reading success for deaf readers. Study 2 further supported this unique reading profile by showing a more bilateral N170 response when deaf signers read single words. This result was attributed to reduced phonological mapping in left-hemisphere temporal regions for deaf compared to hearing readers. These studies clarify the long-standing controversy about the importance of phonological codes and highlight the need for further research into alternative routes to literacy for deaf readers.

A separate line of my research is focused on sign processing and has led to the development of the largest publicly available lexical database for any signed language (ASL-LEX; https://asl-lex.org/). I will briefly describe this database, the novel resources it provides, and what we have learned about the phonological (form-based) organization of the American Sign Language (ASL) lexicon. We are also now developing a sister database that reveals the semantic (rather than phonological) organization of the ASL lexicon. To do so, we collected >100,000 semantic free associations from deaf fluent signers—the largest labeled dataset of ASL signs obtained to date. Analysis of phonological and semantic relations visualized using network graphs has uncovered widespread patterns of systematic non-arbitrary alignment between form and meaning (i.e., iconic networks). In my future work, I plan to leverage these linguistic insights, sign language datasets, and AI/machine learning to develop models for sign recognition.

Overall, these research strands constitute important steps toward building theories of language processing inclusive of deaf communication (written and signed) that may also help guide clinical practice in characterizing and rehabilitating language deficits in deaf individuals.

CRL Talks Schedule

Jan 31

Words and Signs: How are they processed in the minds of deaf signers?

Zed Sehyr

San Diego State University

Feb 7

Rachel Ostrand

Feb 14

Dave Barner

Feb 21

Feb 28

Mar 7

Mar 14

Grant Goodall

CRL Talks are back in person and on Zoom

We look forward to seeing you at 4 p.m. in CSB 280 or via Zoom.  Please note that in order to attend in person, per University recommendations, you must show a Green Thumb from that day through the UCSD Symptom Survey Screening.  For now there will not be a Happy Half Hour prior to the in-person meeting, but we may have it at future in-person meetings this quarter if enough are in attendance.The Zoom link for each talk will be provided in the CRL Talks announcement email. If you are not subscribed to CRL Talks announcements, just sign up using our subscription form. All we require is your email address.

If you still do not want to subscribe to the CRL Talks mailing list, that's okay. Contact the CRL Talks organizer for the details.


UC San Diego offers Zoom Pro when signing on using the SSO option. For more details, please read how you install and configure Zoom. If you wish to engage in conversation or ask questions, you must have a microphone, either built-in or part of a webcam. If you wish to be seen, a camera, either built in or a USB webcam, will be required. Neither of those are a requirement if you just wish to view the talk.