Production of co-speech gestures in the right hemisphere: Evidence from individuals with complete or anterior callosotomy

Hedda Lausberg*, Daniela Dvoretska, Alain Ptito

*Korrespondierende*r Autor*in für diese Arbeit

Publikation: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftZeitschriftenaufsätzeForschungBegutachtung


Introduction: A right-hand preference for co-speech gestures in right-handed neurotypical individuals as well as the co-occurrence of speech and gesture has induced neuropsychological research to primarily target the left hemisphere when investigating co-speech gesture production. However, the substantial number of spontaneous left-hand gestures in right-handed individuals has, thus far, been unexplained. Recent studies in individuals with complete callosotomy and exclusive left hemisphere speech production show a reliable left-hand preference for co-speech gestures, indicating a right hemispheric generation. However, the findings raise the issue if the separate right hemisphere is able to also generate representational gestures. The present study challenges the proposition of a specific right hemispheric contribution to gesture production by differentiating gesture types including representational ones in individuals with complete callosotomy and by including individuals with anterior callosotomy in whom neural reorganization is less extensive.
Methods: Three right-handed individuals with complete commissurotomy (A.A., N.G., G.C.) and three right-handed individuals with anterior callosotomy (C.E., S.R., L. D), all with left hemisphere language dominance, and a matched right-handed neurotypical control group (n = 10) were examined in an experimental setting, including re-narration of a nonverbal animated cartoon and responding to intelligence questions. The participants’ video-taped hand movement behavior was analyzed by two independent certified raters with the NEUROGES-ELAN system for nonverbal behavior and gesture. Unimanual right-hand and left-hand gestures were classified into eight gesture types.
Results: The individuals with complete and anterior callosotomy performed unimanual co-speech gestures with the left as well as the right hand, with no significant preference of one hand for gestures overall. Concerning the specific gesture types, the group with complete callosotomy showed a significant right-hand preference for pantomime gestures, which also applied to the callosotomy total group. The group with anterior callosotomy displayed a significant left-hand preference for form presentation gestures. As a trend, the callosotomy total group differed from the neurotypical group as they performed more left-hand egocentric deictic and left-hand form presentation gestures.
Discussion: The present study replicates the finding of a substantial left-hand use for unimanual co-speech gestures in individuals with complete callosotomy. The proposition of a right hemispheric contribution to gesture production independent from left hemispheric language production is corroborated by the finding that individuals with anterior callosotomy show a similar pattern of hand use for gestures. Representational gestures were displayed with either hand, suggesting that in particular right hemispheric spatial cognition can be directly expressed in gesture. The significant right-hand preference for pantomime gesture was outstanding and compatible with the established left hemispheric specialization for tool use praxis. The findings shed a new light on the left-hand gestures in neurotypical individuals, suggesting that these can be generated in the right hemisphere.
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 10.02.2023


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