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  • CORTEX-SH-accepted(Humphries_Feb_2016)

    Rights statement: This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Cortex. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Cortex, ??, ?, 2016 DOI: 10.1016/j.cortex.2016.02.009

    Accepted author manuscript, 2.05 MB, PDF document

    Available under license: CC BY: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License


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A third-person perspective on co-speech action gestures in Parkinson's disease

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>05/2016
Number of pages11
Pages (from-to)44-54
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date27/02/16
<mark>Original language</mark>English


A combination of impaired motor and cognitive function in Parkinson’s disease (PD) can impact on language and communication, with patients exhibiting a particular difficulty processing action verbs. Co-speech gestures embody a link between action and language and contribute significantly to communication in healthy people. Here, we investigated how co-speech gestures depicting actions are affected in PD, in particular with respect to the visual perspective—or the viewpoint – they depict. Gestures are closely related to mental imagery and motor simulations, but people with PD may be impaired in the way they simulate actions from a first-person perspective and may compensate for this by relying more on third-person visual features. We analysed the action-depicting gestures produced by mild-moderate PD patients and age-matched controls on an action description task and examined the relationship between gesture-viewpoint, action-naming, and performance on an action observation task (weight judgement). Healthy controls produced the majority of their action-gestures from a first person perspective, whereas PD patients produced a greater proportion of gestures produced from a third person perspective. We propose that this reflects a compensatory reliance on third-person visual features in the simulation of actions in PD. Performance was also impaired in action-naming and weight judgement, although this was unrelated to gesture viewpoint. Our findings provide a more comprehensive understanding of how action-language impairments in PD impact on action communication, on the cognitive underpinnings of this impairment, as well as elucidating the role of action simulation in gesture production.

Bibliographic note

Open Access funded by Parkinson's UK Under a Creative Commons license