Evidence for superior encoding of detailed visual memories in deaf signers

Michael Craig, Michaela Dewar, Graham Turner, Trudi Collier, Narinder Kapur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
45 Downloads (Pure)


Recent evidence shows that deaf signers outperform hearing non-signers in some tests of visual attention and discrimination. Furthermore, they can retain visual information better over short periods, i.e., seconds. However, it is unknown if deaf signers' retention of detailed visual information is superior following more extended periods. We report a study investigating this possibility. Our data revealed that deaf individuals outperformed hearing people in a visual long-term memory test that probed the fine detail of new memories. Deaf individuals also performed better in a scene-discrimination test, which correlated positively with performance on the long-term memory test. Our findings provide evidence that deaf signers can demonstrate superior visual long-term memory, possibly because of enhanced visual attention during encoding. The relative contributions of factors including sign language fluency, protracted practice, and neural plasticity are still to be established. Our findings add to evidence showing that deaf signers are at an advantage in some respects, including the retention of detailed visual memories over the longer term.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9097
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2022


  • Deafness
  • Hearing
  • Humans
  • Memory
  • Neuronal Plasticity
  • Sign Language

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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