The Biological Foundations of Gestures: Motor and Semiotic Aspects

By Jean-Luc Nespoulous; Paul Perron et al. | Go to book overview
or somato-sensory deficit, one of them is ambidextrous and the other is left- handed. We might add that the three doctors (observed by means of a second camera) often make gestures with their left hands though none of them is left- handed!

CONCLUSION
The functional analysis of gestures and mimics points to their obvious ambiguities. One has to adopt different levels of interpretation.Two hypotheses should be considered. Either the aphasic can compensate for his verbal deficit thanks to a preserved mimogestuality, or the deficit is global and involves the verbal and the nonverbal production. There is no simple answer. Clearly, we have to consider both the type of gesture and the particular patient studied.An ethological approach, taking into account the patient as a whole, demonstrates that the gestural deficit in most cases is not as serious as the VERBAL deficit. Thanks to nonverbal communication, patients can act upon their interlocutors by expressing their feelings and emotions, and situating themselves with respect to verbal speech. However, they rarely use gestures to transmit information with referential functions.Using verbal fluency as the sole criterion in classifying aphasia does not account for the fact that speech is only one aspect of communication. Communication can be effective without speech. Indeed, some of the patients compensate for their verbal deficit by using mimics and gestures. For some of them, a paradigmatic choice is possible. The analysis of the gestures and mimics of these six patients observed in several communication situations led us to believe that the aphasic's mimogestuality should be analyzed according to three criteria:
the function of the gestures in a communicating situation,
the patient's personality.
whether or not praxic disorders are present.

Speech and mimogestuality cannot be dissociated. The aphasic's expression and comprehension capabilities must be analyzed in relation to the communication situation. These fundamental remarks should be applied to the therapeutic approach taken for each patient. Language is produced through interaction between the locutors; speaking is not merely responding to a series of exercises which test linguistic competence. Communication is partly due to verbal exchange and partly due to mimogestuality.

The language assessment of an aphasic patient by a doctor is one particular communication situation in which their roles are defined, but it could be made more natural if nonverbal elements accompanying or replacing speech were

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