A common functional neural network for overt production of speech and gesture

L. Marstaller*, H. Burianová

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


The perception of co-speech gestures, i.e., hand movements that co-occur with speech, has been investigated by several studies. The results show that the perception of co-speech gestures engages a core set of frontal, temporal, and parietal areas. However, no study has yet investigated the neural processes underlying the production of co-speech gestures. Specifically, it remains an open question whether Broca's area is central to the coordination of speech and gestures as has been suggested previously. The objective of this study was to use functional magnetic resonance imaging to (i) investigate the regional activations underlying overt production of speech, gestures, and co-speech gestures, and (ii) examine functional connectivity with Broca's area. We hypothesized that co-speech gesture production would activate frontal, temporal, and parietal regions that are similar to areas previously found during co-speech gesture perception and that both speech and gesture as well as co-speech gesture production would engage a neural network connected to Broca's area. Whole-brain analysis confirmed our hypothesis and showed that co-speech gesturing did engage brain areas that form part of networks known to subserve language and gesture. Functional connectivity analysis further revealed a functional network connected to Broca's area that is common to speech, gesture, and co-speech gesture production. This network consists of brain areas that play essential roles in motor control, suggesting that the coordination of speech and gesture is mediated by a shared motor control network. Our findings thus lend support to the idea that speech can influence co-speech gesture production on a motoric level.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-41
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • speech production
  • gesture
  • fMRI
  • functional connectivity


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