Hemispheric specialization for nonverbal gestures depicting motion and space

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INTRODUCTION: The right hemispheric specialisation for mental rotation suggests a left hand preference for nonverbal gestures that depict spatial information. We therefore hypothesized that nonverbal depictions of spatial information are preferentially demonstrated by the left hand, i.e., are grounded in right hemispheric functions.

METHODS: Right-handed participants were asked in two experiments to nonverbally demonstrate how to move tachistoscopically presented (in the left or right visual hemifields) geometric objects of different rotations into an identical final position. Two independent blind raters evaluated the videotaped hand gestures employing the Neuropsychological Gesture (NEUROGES) Coding System.

RESULTS: Pantomime gestures increase in order to rotate gravitationally unstable objects whereas spatial relation presentation gestures increase when to nonverbally demonstrate a gravitationally stable object. Individuals preferred the right hand for pantomime gestures but the left hand for spatial relation presentation gestures.

DISCUSSION: Individuals increase their pantomime gestures to nonverbally depict motion particularly with the right hand, i.e. the left hemisphere. In contrast, increased left hand spatial relation presentations gestures indicate that those gestures are of right hemispheric origin. Thus, the hemispherical lateralization of nonverbal gestures seems to depend on the hands' functional depiction.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBrain and cognition
Volume151
Pages (from-to)105736
ISSN0278-2626
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24.04.2021

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