Your brain can distinguish between gestures and words- even when gestures are words. Researchers at San Diego State University studied the brains of deaf ASL users. They found different regions of the brain lit up when the deaf subjects signed than when they pantomimed. And that held true, even when the word and gesture were identical. The results were presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science and expected to be published later in the journal Language and Cognitive Processes.