The revised NEUROGES–ELAN system: An objective and reliable interdisciplinary analysis tool for nonverbal behavior and gesture

As visual media spread to all domains of public and scientific life, nonverbal behavior is taking its place as an important form of communication alongside the written and spoken word. An objective and reliable method of analysis for hand movement behavior and gesture is therefore currently required in various scientific disciplines, including psychology, medicine, linguistics, anthropology, sociology, and computer science. However, no adequate common methodological standards have been developed thus far. Many behavioral gesture-coding systems lack objectivity and reliability, and automated methods that register specific movement parameters often fail to show validity with regard to psychological and social functions. To address these deficits, we have combined two methods, an elaborated behavioral coding system and an annotation tool for video and audio data. The NEUROGES–ELAN system is an effective and user-friendly research tool for the analysis of hand movement behavior, including gesture, self-touch, shifts, and actions. Since its first publication in 2009 in Behavior Research Methods, the tool has been used in interdisciplinary research projects to analyze a total of 467 individuals from different cultures, including subjects with mental disease and brain damage. Partly on the basis of new insights from these studies, the system has been revised methodologically and conceptually. The article presents the revised version of the system, including a detailed study of reliability. The improved reproducibility of the revised version makes NEUROGES–ELAN a suitable system for basic empirical research into the relation between hand movement behavior and gesture and cognitive, emotional, and interactive processes and for the development of automated movement behavior recognition methods.
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