Putting language back in the body: speech and gesture on three time frames

Dev Neuropsychol. 2002;22(1):323-49. doi: 10.1207/S15326942dn2201_1.


This article investigates the role that nonverbal actions play in language processing over 3 different time frames. First, we speculate that nonverbal actions played a role in how formal language systems emerged from our primate ancestors over evolutionary time. Next, we hypothesize that if nonverbal behaviors played a foundational role in the emergence of language over evolution, these actions should influence how children learn language in the present. Finally, we argue that nonverbal actions continue to play a role for adults in the moment-to-moment processing of language. Throughout, we take an embodied view of language and argue that the neural, cognitive, and social components of language processing are firmly grounded in bodily action.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Comprehension
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology
  • Gestures*
  • Humans
  • Language Development*
  • Language*
  • Learning / physiology
  • Neocortex / physiology
  • Nonverbal Communication / physiology
  • Nonverbal Communication / psychology*
  • Speech* / physiology
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology