General programme, activity sheet

Wednesday 7 September, 2016 12:30 to 13:00 Oral presentation
The effects of prosody and beat gestures on words recall within a contrastive discourse by children
Speaker: Judith Llanes Coromina, Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Speaker: Pilar Prieto, ICREA-Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Authors: Judith Llanes, Olga Kushch, Pilar Prieto

The cognitive benefits of co-speech gestures have been widely described (e.g., McNeill, 1992; Goldin-Meadow, 2003). The increase in word recall has been highlighted as one of the positive effects in the use of representative (or iconic) gestures (e.g., Kelly et al., 1999; So et al., 2012).With respect to beat gestures (rhythmic hand/arm movements produced with prominent prosody) results remain controversial. Research has shown that naturally produced beat gestures (accompanied by prosodic prominence) favor word recall in a contrastive discourse by adults (Kushch & Prieto, 2015). According to So et al. (2012), beat gestures increase word memorization by adults but not by children. In this study, preschoolers (e.g., 4 to 5 year olds) couldn´t perceive beats as a prominent cue and the pragmatic information was not controlled for. A more recent study by Igualada et al. (2014), showed that beat gestures do help preschoolers to recall words. In these two studies children had to remember target words from a list of items. Yet, we do not know whether preschoolers can benefit from the use of beat gestures as pragmatic encoders of contrastive information in natural discourse.

The aim of our study is to investigate whether beat gestures help children to recall contrastive information in a child-directed discourse. Twenty children will be exposed to a total of 12stories. Target contrastive items will be presented under three experimental conditions: 1) unaccented, 2) prominence in speech alone (accented words); and 3) prominence in both speech (accented words) and gesture (beats). Following the results by Igualada, et al. (2014), Kushch & Prieto (2015), Krahmer and Swerts (2007), we hypothesize that children will remember more items conveyed in the beat gesture condition than in the other two conditions, showing that beat gestures influence positively information memorization and recall within a contrastive discourse by children.

Goldin-Meadow, S.; Singer, M. A. (2003). “From children's hands to adults' ears: Gesture's role in the learning process.” Developmental Psychology, 39(3), 509-520. Igualada, A., Esteve-Gibert, N.; Prieto, P. (2014). “Does the presence of beat gestures help children recall information?” Oral presentation at Laboratory Approaches to Romance Phonology VII, Aix-en-Provence, September 3-5, 2014. Kelly, S. D.; Barr, D. J.; Church, R. B.; and Lynch, K. (1999). “Offering a hand to pragmatic understanding: the role of speech and gesture in comprehension and memory.” J. Mem. Lang. 40, 577–592. Krahmer, E.; Swerts, M. (2007). “The effects of visual beats on prosodic prominence: Acoustic analyses, auditory perception and visual perception.” Journal of Memory and Language: 57, (3), 396–414.
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Phonetic and phonological development
Place: Room A-16

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