Event Representations in Speech, Gesture & Cognition

Ercenur Ünal

One of the fundamental abilities for humans is to create meaningful representations of the world around them that is full of constantly unfolding, dynamic events and communicate about these events with other people. Information about event details is not only conveyed through speech, but also through the gestures that speakers produce when they speak.

This project focuses on the gestural representations of events to gain an understanding of how children and adults represent and remember event details. We will use online methodologies such as eye tracking and recognition memory tasks to test how the gestures that speakers produce at encoding later help them remember event details. We will also test how comprehension of someone else’s gestures as opposed to speech influences the listeners’ event memory, and whether gestures create false memories of event details.

This project is supported by a Vici Grant (2015-2020) for the project "Giving cognition a hand: Linking spatial cognition to linguistic expression in native and late learners of sign language and bimodal bilinguals", awarded to Prof. Aslı Özyürek.