Beat gestures influence which speech sounds you hear

Hans Rutger Bosker, David Peeters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Beat gestures—spontaneously produced biphasic movements of the hand— are among the most frequently encountered co-speech gestures in human communication. They are closely temporally aligned to the prosodic characteristics of the speech signal, typically occurring on lexically stressed syllables. Despite their prevalence across speakers of the world’s languages, how beat gestures impact spoken word recognition is unclear. Can these simple ‘flicks of the hand’ influence speech perception? Across a range of experiments, we demonstrate that beat gestures influence the explicit and implicit perception of lexical stress (e.g. distinguishing OBject from obJECT), and in turn can influence what vowels listeners hear. Thus, we provide converging evidence for a manual McGurk effect: relatively simple and widely occurring hand movements influence which speech sounds we hear.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume288: 20202419
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jan 2021

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