PhD in Psychology & Linguistics, University of Chicago (2006)
Research summary: I use gesture to understand the psychological processes involved in producing and understanding language. To understand why a language researcher might study gesture, it helps to know a couple of things. First of all, when people talk, they move their hands and arms around. Second, these motions are not just expressive (in the sense of adding emotional content to a person's speech). They have meaning that is very intricately connected to what the speaker is saying. In fact, the relationship between the information expressed by the two modalities (speech and gesture) is so close that many researchers believe gesture should be considered part of the language system. I study the relationship between gesture and speech because it's quite informative about a speaker's underlying mental representations--the thoughts she is encoding in language.