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See Inside March / April 2010

Why is talking with gestures easier than talking without them?

Michael P. Kaschak, an associate professor of psychology at Flori­da State University, offers an explanation

The link between speech and gesture appears to have a neurological basis. In 2007 Jeremy Skipper, a developmental psychobiologist at Cornell University, used fMRI to show that when comprehending speech, Broca’s area (the part of the cortex associated with both speech production and language and gesture comprehension) appears to “talk” to other brain regions less when the speech is accompanied by gesture. When gesture is present, Broca’s area has an easier time processing the content of speech and therefore may not need to draw on other brain regions to understand what is being expressed. Such observations illustrate the close link between speech and gesture.

This article was originally published with the title "Ask the Brains."

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