Department of Cognitive Science
If you watch people talking, you’ll notice that much of the time they are also moving their hands and arms around, or gesturing. Why do people do this? What’s the connection between such gestures and spoken languages? What can studying these gestures tell us about the human mind? These are the basic questions I study.
I study gesture from the perspective of embodied or simulation based theories of language. Such theories claim that during language production or comprehension, we generate modality-specific reconstructions of whatever the talk is about, using the same motor and visual parts of the brain that are involved in perception and action. I believe gesture has the potential to offer support for such theories, because gestures appear to be physical simulations of speech content. Current projects focus on the use of gesture in teaching and learning, gestural viewpoint in narrative and in spatial descriptions, and abstract gestures. Visit my research gate profile for access to recent papers.
Interested in working on gesture?
Undergraduates can learn how to conduct behavioral research, edit digital video and use tools for speech and gesture transcription and analysis. Students who have taken COGS 327 will receive preference for positions on gesture projects, so plan to take the course if you’re interested in this area of research.