Gesture for speaking and gesture for thinking in children with typical and atypical development: a new theoretical framework.

This chapter aims to present a series of studies, mostly conducted from our laboratory, on the interaction
between verbal and gestural modalities in tipically and atipically developing children at different ages
and in different observational contexts.
In earlier work of the developmental literature, gestures were explored as relevant features of the 'prelinguistic'
stage, as behaviors that preceded and prepared the emergence of language. The more recent
studies support the view that there is a remarkable continuity between prelinguistic and linguistic development,
and that symbolic skills that are most evident in vocal linguistic productions, co-evolve with
more general representational abilities, as is most apparent in the tight relationship between gestures and
words. Some works on the relationship between gestures and words also in children with atypical development,
underline that the motor representation (gesture) could constitute a 'bridge' in the construction
and communication of meanings when the bond with the corresponding word appears to be weaker.
Today, a new theoretical framework emerging from different disciplines makes this approach to ontogeny
of language extremely interesting and relevant and recent findings on the neurophisiological basis of the
motor system have provided a neural basis to this claim (Rizzolati et al., 1996).
The studies reviewed here are consistent with the suggestion of a close neurophysiologic link between
motor programs and spoken linguistic representations in children; this link provides the basis for a developmental
model of language in human ontogeny that goes from action to gesture and word. In conclusion,
both in typically and atypically developing children, the relationships between gestures and words change
in time and are strictly related to cognitive and linguistic factors. Moreover, different types of gestures
fulfill different functions at different developmental stages: some appear in earlier stages of development
and seem to be more bonded to the vocal linguistic abilities, whereas others, in the subsequent stages of
development, appear to be more connected to cognitive nonverbal abilities.

Tipo Pubblicazione: 
Contributo in volume
Author or Creator: 
De Angelis
John Libbey Eurotext, Montrouge, FRA
Brain Lesion Localization and Developmental Functions: Basal Ganglia - Connecting systems - Cerebellum - Mirror Neurons, edited by Daria Riva; Charles Njiokiktjien, pp. 201–216. Montrouge: John Libbey Eurotext, 2010
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ISTC Author: 
Ritratto di Olga Capirci
Real name: