Hand gestures as visual prosody : BOLD responses to audio-visual alignment are modulated by the communicative nature of the stimuli

Biau, Emmanuel; Fernandez, Luis Moris; Holle, Henning; Avila, César (Psychologist); Soto-Faraco, Salvador

Department of Psychology
Speech perception; Gestures; Audiovisual speech; Multisensory integration; MTG; fMRI
2016

Journal article


Rights
© 2016. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
Abstract

During public addresses, speakers accompany their discourse with spontaneous hand gestures (beats) that are tightly synchronized with the prosodic contour of the discourse. It has been proposed that speech and beat gestures originate from a common underlying linguistic process whereby both speech prosody and beats serve to emphasize relevant information. We hypothesized that breaking the consistency between beats and prosody by temporal desynchronization, would modulate activity of brain areas sensitive to speech-gesture integration. To this aim, we measured BOLD responses as participants watched a natural discourse where the speaker used beat gestures.

In order to identify brain areas specifically involved in processing hand gestures with communicative intention, beat synchrony was evaluated against arbitrary visual cues bearing equivalent rhythmic and spatial properties as the gestures. Our results revealed that left MTG and IFG were specifically sensitive to speech synchronized with beats, compared to the arbitrary vision-speech pairing. Our results suggest that listeners confer beats a function of visual prosody, complementary to the prosodic structure of speech. We conclude that the emphasizing function of beat gestures in speech perception is instantiated through a specialized brain network sensitive to the communicative intent conveyed by a speaker with his/her hands.

Publisher
The University of Hull
Peer reviewed
Yes
Language
English
Extent
403 KB
Identifier
hull:12639

Journal

Journal title
NeuroImage
Publication date
2016
Publisher
Elsevier
DOI
10.1016/j.neuroimage.2016.02.018
ISSN (Print)
1053-8119
ISSN (Electronic)
1095-9572
Volume
132
Start page
129
End page
137
Notes

Authors' accepted manuscript of article published in: NeuroImage, 2016, v.132

Link
Published article
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