SATURDAY, Jan. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Deaf people who use sign
language recognize and interpret body language quicker than hearing
people who don't use sign language, researchers have found.
"There are a lot of anecdotes about deaf people being better able to pick up on body language, but this is the first evidence of that," David Corina, a professor in the department of linguistics and Center for Mind and Brain at the University of California, Davis, said in a university news release.
Corina and a colleague compared the response times of deaf and
hearing people to video clips of people using American Sign
Language or making other "non-language" physical gestures, such as
stroking their chin.
"We expected that deaf people would recognize sign language faster than hearing people, as the deaf people know and use sign language daily, but the real surprise was that deaf people also were about 100 milliseconds faster at recognizing non-language gestures than were hearing people," Corina said in the news release.
The findings are important because they indicate that the human
ability for communication is adaptable and not limited to speech,
Corina explained. The research also suggests that deaf people may
be especially adept at detecting subtle traits in the physical
actions of others, a skill that could be valuable for some
sensitive jobs, such as airport screening.
The study was released online in advance of publication in the
March print issue of the journal
The U.S. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication
Disorders has more about
American Sign Language.