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Journal Article

Can gesticulation help aphasic people speak, or rather, communicate?


De Ruiter,  Jan Peter
Language and Cognition Group, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
Multimodal Interaction, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;

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De Ruiter, J. P. (2006). Can gesticulation help aphasic people speak, or rather, communicate? Advances in Speech-Language Pathology, 8(2), 124-127. doi:10.1080/14417040600667285.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0013-1904-D
As Rose (2006) discusses in the lead article, two camps can be identified in the field of gesture research: those who believe that gesticulation enhances communication by providing extra information to the listener, and on the other hand those who believe that gesticulation is not communicative, but rather that it facilitates speaker-internal word finding processes. I review a number of key studies relevant for this controversy, and conclude that the available empirical evidence is supporting the notion that gesture is a communicative device which can compensate for problems in speech by providing information in gesture. Following that, I discuss the finding by Rose and Douglas (2001) that making gestures does facilitate word production in some patients with aphasia. I argue that the gestures produced in the experiment by Rose and Douglas are not guaranteed to be of the same kind as the gestures that are produced spontaneously under naturalistic, communicative conditions, which makes it difficult to generalise from that particular study to general gesture behavior. As a final point, I encourage researchers in the area of aphasia to put more emphasis on communication in naturalistic contexts (e.g., conversation) in testing the capabilities of people with aphasia.