Psychological Research

, Volume 78, Issue 1, pp 55–69 | Cite as

Beyond words: evidence for automatic language–gesture integration of symbolic gestures but not dynamic landscapes

  • Dana Vainiger
  • Ludovica Labruna
  • Richard B. Ivry
  • Michal Lavidor
Original Article


Understanding actions based on either language or action observation is presumed to involve the motor system, reflecting the engagement of an embodied conceptual network. We examined how linguistic and gestural information were integrated in a series of cross-domain priming studies. We varied the task demands across three experiments in which symbolic gestures served as primes for verbal targets. Primes were clips of symbolic gestures taken from a rich set of emblems. Participants responded by making a lexical decision to the target (Experiment 1), naming the target (Experiment 2), or performing a semantic relatedness judgment (Experiment 3). The magnitude of semantic priming was larger in the relatedness judgment and lexical decision tasks compared to the naming task. Priming was also observed in a control task in which the primes were pictures of landscapes with conceptually related verbal targets. However, for these stimuli, the amount of priming was similar across the three tasks. We propose that action observation triggers an automatic, pre-lexical spread of activation, consistent with the idea that language–gesture integration occurs in an obligatory and automatic fashion.


Lexical Decision Semantic Relatedness Negative Priming Lexical Decision Task Naming Task 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This study was supported by the BSF Grant 2007184 awarded to R. Ivry and M. Lavidor.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dana Vainiger
    • 1
  • Ludovica Labruna
    • 2
  • Richard B. Ivry
    • 2
  • Michal Lavidor
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyBar-Ilan UniversityRamat GanIsrael
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of HullCottinghamUK

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