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  Gesture facilitates the syntactic analysis of speech

Holle, H., Obermeier, C., Schmidt-Kassow, M., Friederici, A. D., Ward, J., & Gunter, T. C. (2012). Gesture facilitates the syntactic analysis of speech. Frontiers in Psychology, 3: 74. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00074.

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Item Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-000F-81D3-4 Version Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0004-5C2E-3
Genre: Journal Article

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 Creators:
Holle, Henning1, 2, Author              
Obermeier, Christian1, Author              
Schmidt-Kassow, Maren3, 4, Author              
Friederici, Angela D.1, Author              
Ward, Jamie5, Author
Gunter, Thomas C.1, Author              
Affiliations:
1Department Neuropsychology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society, ou_634551              
2Department of Psychology, University of Hull, Hull, UK, ou_persistent22              
3Minerva Research Group Neurocognition of Rhythm in Communication, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society, ou_634560              
4Institute of Medical Psychology, Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany, ou_persistent22              
5School of Psychology and Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK, ou_persistent22              

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Free keywords: Language; Syntax; Audiovisual; P600; Ambiguity
 Abstract: 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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Language(s): eng - English
 Dates: 2012-03-19
 Publication Status: Published online
 Pages: -
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 Table of Contents: -
 Rev. Method: Peer
 Identifiers: DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00074
PMID: 22457657
PMC: PMC3307377
Other: eCollection 2012
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Title: Frontiers in Psychology
  Abbreviation : Front Psychol
Source Genre: Journal
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Publ. Info: Pully, Switzerland : Frontiers Research Foundation
Pages: - Volume / Issue: 3 Sequence Number: 74 Start / End Page: - Identifier: ISSN: 1664-1078
CoNE: /journals/resource/1664-1078