Speaking and gesturing guide event perception during message conceptualization: Evidence from eye movements
Ünal, E., Manhardt, F., & Ozyurek, A.
Speaking and gesturing guide event perception during message conceptualization: Evidence from eye movements. Cognition, 225
: 105127. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2022.105127.
Speakers’ visual attention to events is guided by linguistic conceptualization of information in spoken language
production and in language-specific ways. Does production of language-specific co-speech gestures further guide
speakers’ visual attention during message preparation? Here, we examine the link between visual attention and
multimodal event descriptions in Turkish. Turkish is a verb-framed language where speakers’ speech and gesture
show language specificity with path of motion mostly expressed within the main verb accompanied by path
gestures. Turkish-speaking adults viewed motion events while their eye movements were recorded during non-
linguistic (viewing-only) and linguistic (viewing-before-describing) tasks. The relative attention allocated to path
over manner was higher in the linguistic task compared to the non-linguistic task. Furthermore, the relative
attention allocated to path over manner within the linguistic task was higher when speakers (a) encoded path in
the main verb versus outside the verb and (b) used additional path gestures accompanying speech versus not.
Results strongly suggest that speakers’ visual attention is guided by language-specific event encoding not only in
speech but also in gesture. This provides evidence consistent with models that propose integration of speech and
gesture at the conceptualization level of language production and suggests that the links between the eye and the
mouth may be extended to the eye and the hand.
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