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Journal Article

Communication with emblematic gestures: Shared and distinct neural correlates of expression and reception

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Lindenberg, R., Uhlig, M., Scherfeld, D., Schlaug, G., & Seitz, R. J. (2012). Communication with emblematic gestures: Shared and distinct neural correlates of expression and reception. Human Brain Mapping, 33(4), 812-823. doi:10.1002/hbm.21258.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0012-138C-3
Emblematic (or symbolic) gestures allow individuals to convey a variety of thoughts and emotions ranging from approval to hostility. The use of such gestures involves the execution of a codified motor act by the addresser and its perception and decoding by the addressee. To examine underlying common and distinct neural correlates, we used fMRI tasks in which subjects viewed video clips of emblematic one-hand gestures. They were asked to (1) take the perspective of the addresser and imagine executing the gestures (“expression” condition), and to (2) take the perspective of the addressee and imagine being confronted with the gestures (“reception” condition). Common areas of activation were found in inferior frontal, medial frontal, and posterior temporal cortices with left-hemispheric predominance as well as in the cerebellum. The distinction between regions specifically involved in the expression or reception condition partly resembled the dorsal and ventral stream dichotomy of visual processing with junctions in inferior frontal and medial prefrontal cortices. Imagery of gesture expression involved the dorsal visual stream as well as higher-order motor areas. In contrast, gesture reception encompassed regions related to semantic processing, and medial prefrontal areas known to be involved in the process of understanding the intentions of others. In conclusion, our results provide evidence for a dissociation in representations of emblematic gesture processing between addresser and addressee in addition to shared components in language-related areas.