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Cogn Neuropsychol. 2013;30(2):58-76. doi: 10.1080/02643294.2013.794777. Epub 2013 May 13.

Neural correlates of gesture processing across human development.

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Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, USA.


Co-speech gesture facilitates learning to a greater degree in children than in adults, suggesting that the mechanisms underlying the processing of co-speech gesture differ as a function of development. We suggest that this may be partially due to children's lack of experience producing gesture, leading to differences in the recruitment of sensorimotor networks when comparing adults to children. Here, we investigated the neural substrates of gesture processing in a cross-sectional sample of 5-, 7.5-, and 10-year-old children and adults and focused on relative recruitment of a sensorimotor system that included the precentral gyrus (PCG) and the posterior middle temporal gyrus (pMTG). Children and adults were presented with videos in which communication occurred through different combinations of speech and gesture during a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) session. Results demonstrated that the PCG and pMTG were recruited to different extents in the two populations. We interpret these novel findings as supporting the idea that gesture perception (pMTG) is affected by a history of gesture production (PCG), revealing the importance of considering gesture processing as a sensorimotor process.

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