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Hogrefe, Katharina; Rein, Robert; Skomroch, Harald and Lausberg, Hedda (2016): Co-speech hand movements during narrations: What is the impact of right vs. left hemisphere brain damage? In: Neuropsychologia, Vol. 93: pp. 176-188

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Persons with brain damage show deviant patterns of co-speech hand movement behaviour in comparison to healthy speakers. It has been claimed by several authors that gesture and speech rely on a single production mechanism that depends on the same neurological substrate while others claim that both modalities are closely related but separate production channels. Thus, findings so far are contradictory and there is a lack of studies that systematically analyse the full range of hand movements that accompany speech in the condition of brain damage. In the present study, we aimed to fill this gap by comparing hand movement behaviour in persons with unilateral brain damage to the left and the right hemisphere and a matched control group of healthy persons. For hand movement coding, we applied Module I of NEUROGES, an objective and reliable analysis system that enables to analyse the full repertoire of hand movements independent of speech, which makes it specifically suited for the examination of persons with aphasia. The main results of our study show a decreased use of communicative conceptual gestures in persons with damage to the right hemisphere and an increased use of these gestures in persons with left brain damage and aphasia. These results not only suggest that the production of gesture and speech do not rely on the same neurological substrate but also underline the important role of right hemisphere functioning for gesture production.

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