Cognitive and affective predictors of language and socioemotional outcomes in deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals

ID: 4096
School: Research Center/Lab
Program: Ph.D. in Educational Neuroscience (PEN)
Status: Ongoing
Start date: January 2021
End Date: January 2027


This research will explore how negative emotional experiences in language contexts may be associated with detrimental language outcomes for deaf, DeafBlind and hard of hearing (DDBHH) individuals. Language anxiety, defined here as negative emotional experiences associated with understanding, learning, or expressing language, may reduce language proficiency. The vast majority of deaf children are born to hearing parents. If hearing parents cannot access adequate language-learning resources for themselves and their DDBHH children, such as learning American Sign Language or additional language support, this puts DDBHH children at increased risk for negative experiences with language development, such as language delay or adverse childhood communication experiences (ACCE). This research will explore how language anxiety, secondary to ACCE, is related to a lower level of language proficiency, avoidance, increased negative emotion, and decreased performance and learning in a second language. Addressing language anxiety as a challenge for developing language fluency represents an understudied line of research and may revolutionize our understanding of the role of emotion in language development. This approach is innovative because it considers the important role that a bilingual immersion environment may play in reducing the impact of language anxiety on linguistic and socioemotional development. Establishing language anxiety as a factor predicting language outcomes, neural measures of language representation, and socioemotional outcomes represents a novel way to conceptualize the vital role of emotion in language development.

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