Children’s Integration of Action Gestures and Verbs During Online Language Comprehension: An Event-Related Potentials Study

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2017-08-01
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en
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Abstract
Behavioral measures show that five-year-olds can integrate iconic gestures that co-occur with speech. Both behavioral and neuroscientific studies show that adults integrate gestures (e.g. a C-shaped hand depicting a glass while moving it towards the mouth to indicate drinking) with simultaneous speech. However, no study has investigated the underlying neural activity of online multimodal semantic integration processes in seven-year-old children. We used electroencephalography (EEG) to record Dutch speaking children’s brain activity while they watched videos of simultaneously presented speech-gesture combinations of action gestures and action verbs in matching and mismatching conditions. We observed an N400 effect with larger amplitude to mismatching speech-gesture combinations compared to matching speech-gesture pairs, reflecting semantic integration of gestural information to the spoken word. Our findings suggest that seven-year-old children display adult-like online neural integration strategies of iconic gestures co-occurring with speech.
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Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen