Processing language in face-to-face conversation : questions with gestures get faster responses
SourcePsychonomic Bulletin & Review, 25, 5, (2018), pp. 1900-1908
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ DCC PL
Donders Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging
Psychonomic Bulletin & Review
Subject110 000 Neurocognition of Language; DI-BCB_DCC_Theme 1: Language and Communication; Interactional Foundations of Language; Language & Communication; Psycholinguistics
The home of human language use is face-to-face interaction, a context in which communicative exchanges are characterised not only by bodily signals accompanying what is being said but also by a pattern of alternating turns at talk. This transition between turns is astonishingly fast - typically a mere 200-ms elapse between a current and a next speaker's contribution - meaning that comprehending, producing, and coordinating conversational contributions in time is a significant challenge. This begs the question of whether the additional information carried by bodily signals facilitates or hinders language processing in this time-pressured environment. We present analyses of multimodal conversations revealing that bodily signals appear to profoundly influence language processing in interaction: Questions accompanied by gestures lead to shorter turn transition times - that is, to faster responses - than questions without gestures, and responses come earlier when gestures end before compared to after the question turn has ended. These findings hold even after taking into account prosodic patterns and other visual signals, such as gaze. The empirical findings presented here provide a first glimpse of the role of the body in the psycholinguistic processes underpinning human communication.
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