More than words: word predictability, prosody, gesture and mouth movements in natural language comprehension

Ye Zhang, Diego Frassinelli, Jyrki Tuomainen, Jeremy I. Skipper, Gabriella Vigliocco
2021 Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Biological Sciences  
The ecology of human language is face-to-face interaction, comprising cues such as prosody, co-speech gestures and mouth movements. Yet, the multimodal context is usually stripped away in experiments as dominant paradigms focus on linguistic processing only. In two studies we presented video-clips of an actress producing naturalistic passages to participants while recording their electroencephalogram. We quantified multimodal cues (prosody, gestures, mouth movements) and measured their effect
more » ... a well-established electroencephalographic marker of processing load in comprehension (N400). We found that brain responses to words were affected by informativeness of co-occurring multimodal cues, indicating that comprehension relies on linguistic and non-linguistic cues. Moreover, they were affected by interactions between the multimodal cues, indicating that the impact of each cue dynamically changes based on the informativeness of other cues. Thus, results show that multimodal cues are integral to comprehension, hence, our theories must move beyond the limited focus on speech and linguistic processing.
doi:10.1098/rspb.2021.0500 fatcat:5njf3gykfvbr5iachijgfwzrca