Differential activation levels of the two hemispheres due to hemispheric specialization for various linguistic processes might determine hand choice for co-speech gestures. To test this hypothesis, we compared hand choices for gesturing in 20 healthy right-handed participants during explanation of metaphorical vs. non-metaphorical meanings, on the assumption that metaphor explanation enhances the right hemisphere contribution to speech production. Hand choices were analyzed separately for: depictive gestures that imitate action ("character viewpoint gestures," [McNeill, D. (1992). Hand and mind. What gestures reveal about thought. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.]), depictive gestures that express motion, relative locations, and shape ("observer viewpoint gestures"), and "abstract deictic gestures." It was found that the right-hand over left-hand preference was significantly weaker in the metaphor condition than in the non-metaphor conditions for depictive gestures that imitated action. Findings suggest that the activation of the right hemisphere in the metaphor condition reduces the likelihood of left hemisphere generation of gestures that imitate action, thus attenuating the right-hand preference.
- Broca's area
- hand use