cSCAN Rounds

Are hand gestures meant for speech?

As a test of whether gesture and speech form an integrated system of communication, the present talk explores the role that intentions play in how people use and understand gestures that accompany speech. After briefly exploring the intentional role of gesture in language production, I present behavioral and cognitive neuroscience research from my lab demonstrating that during language comprehension, listeners are sensitive to the communicative intentions of gesture, and this sensitivity affects how gestures are processed along with the accompanying speech. I conclude by suggesting that gesture may be a special type of social action that is specifically designed for speech, making it a fundamental part of human language.