Comprehension of Representational Gestures


In daily communication, the spontaneous use of hands and arms along with speech is pervasive and indispensable. The present study used real face-to-face communication materials as stimuli to investigate the comprehension of representational gestures when speech is not available. Twenty-two adults watched short, soundless video clips extracted from recordings of daily conversations, each including a spontaneous representational gesture. Participants were requested to judge whether and in what way the gestures made sense. Their responses showed that in the absence of speech, the idiosyncratic hand configurations were not incomprehensible, suggesting that speech-gesture integration is not entirely obligatory. The way representational gestures were understood in this study reveals the activated content of the gestural-action representations which consists of conceptual knowledge associated with a situation of use.

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