Gesture facilitates the syntactic analysis of speech

Recent research suggests that the brain routinely binds together information from gesture and speech. However, most of this research focused on the integration of representational gestures with the semantic content of sp
Recent research suggests that the brain routinely binds together information from gesture and speech. However, most of this research focused on the integration of representational gestures with the semantic content of speech. Much less is known about how other aspects of gesture, such as emphasis, influence the interpretation of the syntactic relations in a spoken message. Here, we investigated whether beat gestures alter which syntactic structure is assigned to ambiguous spoken German sentences. The P600 component of the Event Related Brain Potential indicated that the more complex syntactic structure is easier to process when the speaker emphasizes the subject of a sentence with a beat. Thus, a simple flick of the hand can change our interpretation of who has been doing what to whom in a spoken sentence. We conclude that gestures and speech are integrated systems. Unlike previous studies, which have shown that the brain effortlessly integrates semantic information from gesture and speech, our study is the first to demonstrate that this integration also occurs for syntactic information. Moreover, the effect appears to be gesture-specific and was not found for other stimuli that draw attention to certain parts of speech, including prosodic emphasis, or a moving visual stimulus with the same trajectory as the gesture. This suggests that only visual emphasis produced with a communicative intention in mind (that is, beat gestures) influences language comprehension, but not a simple visual movement lacking such an intention.
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Metadaten
Author:Henning Holle, Christian Obermeier, Maren Schmidt-Kassow, Angela D. Friederici, Jamie Ward, Thomas C. Gunter
URN:urn:nbn:de:hebis:30:3-251845
DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00074
ISSN:1664-1078
Pubmed Id:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=22457657
Parent Title (English):Frontiers in psychology
Publisher:Frontiers Research Foundation
Place of publication:Lausanne
Document Type:Article
Language:English
Year of Completion:2012
Date of first Publication:2012/01/04
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2013/09/17
Tag:P600; ambiguity; audiovisual; language; syntax
Volume:3
Issue:74
Pagenumber:12
Note:
Copyright © 2012 Holle, Obermeier, Schmidt-Kassow, Friederici, Ward and Gunter. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial License, which permits non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited.
HeBIS PPN:353079510
Institutes:Medizin
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychologie
Sammlungen:Universitätspublikationen
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung-Nicht kommerziell 3.0

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