Invitation to BLACKBOX TALK by SOTARO KITA: How speech and gesture production shape each other

Sala Multiusos 1, Edifício ID Faculdade de Ciência Sociais e Humanas,
Universidade Nova de Lisboa Av. Berna, 26



This talk concerns gestures that people spontaneously produce, mainly with their hands, while speaking. Such gestures have traditionally been considered to be a “nonverbal” behaviour, and its independence from speech production was emphasised. This talk will argue that gesture production is highly inter- dependent with speech production. The evidence comes from gestures that refer to motion events and metaphorical concepts. Furthermore, hemispheric specialisation for language processing in the brain plays a key role in the way speech and gesture production interact with each other. 


After a bachelor’s and master’s degree in engineering from the University of Tokyo (Japan), Prof. Sotaro Kita completed a PhD in psychology and linguistics at the University of Chicago (USA) under the supervision of Professor David McNeill. He worked as a postdoc and a senior scientist in the Cognitive Anthropology Research Group (lead by Stephen Levinson) at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics (the Netherlands), and has been lecturing in the UK since 2003 at Univ. of Bristol, Univ. of Birmingham, and Univ. of Warwick.

Prof. Sotaro Kita’s research interests are psycholinguistics and psychology of communication. The main focus is on gestures that are spontaneously produced during speaking and thinking. The second focus is development of communicative abilities in children. Other interests include issues concerning speech production (e.g. self-monitoring), semantics and pragmatics of spatial expressions (e.g. motion events), and the relationship between language and thought.