Abstract

The aim of the present study was to determine whether Broca's area is involved in translating some aspects of arm gesture representations into mouth articulation gestures. In Experiment 1, we applied low-frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation over Broca's area and over the symmetrical loci of the right hemisphere of participants responding verbally to communicative spoken words, to gestures, or to the simultaneous presentation of the two signals. We performed also sham stimulation over the left stimulation loci. In Experiment 2, we performed the same stimulations as in Experiment 1 to participants responding with words congruent and incongruent with gestures. After sham stimulation voicing parameters were enhanced when responding to communicative spoken words or to gestures as compared to a control condition of word reading. This effect increased when participants responded to the simultaneous presentation of both communicative signals. In contrast, voicing was interfered when the verbal responses were incongruent with gestures. The left stimulation neither induced enhancement on voicing parameters of words congruent with gestures nor interference on words incongruent with gestures. We interpreted the enhancement of the verbal response to gesturing in terms of intention to interact directly. Consequently, we proposed that Broca's area is involved in the process of translating into speech aspects concerning the social intention coded by the gesture. Moreover, we discussed the results in terms of evolution to support the theory [Corballis, M. C. (2002). From hand to mouth: The origins of language. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press] proposing spoken language as evolved from an ancient communication system using arm gestures.

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