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Gesture as the bridge between language and thought



Staff, Students, Academics

Speaker: Dr Sotaro Kita, University of Warwick

Dr Sotaro Kita

After studying engineering in Japan (B.Eng., Mathematical engineering, University of Tokyo, 1986; M.Eng. Information engineering, University of Tokyo, 1988), I moved to Chicago (USA). I received a Ph.D. in psychology and linguistics from the University of Chicago (1993) under the supervision of Professor David McNeill. In 1993, I joined Cognitive Anthropology Research Group (lead by Stephen Levinson) at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in the Netherlands as a postdoc.

I worked at the Max Planck Institute as a postdoc (1993-1994) and then a Senior Researcher in Levinson's group (1994-2003). Throughout my stay at the Institute, I was the leader of the Gesture Project, one of the research foci of the Institute. I was a Senior Lecturer at the Dept. of Experimental Psychology in the University of Bristol (2003-2006), and a Reader at the School of Psychology in the University of Birmingham (2006-2013). I have been in the current position (Professor of Psychology of Language) since 2013. I have served as the President of International Society for Gesture Studies (2012-2014), and I will become the Editor for the journal, Gesture, from April 2017.


This presentation concerns a theory on how speech-accompanying gesture (“co-speech gesture”) is generated, in coordination with speech, and how co-speech gestures facilitate the gesturer's own speech production process. I will present evidence that co-speech gesture is generated from a general-purpose Action Generator (, which also generates “practical” actions such as grasping a cup to drink). The Action Generator generates gestural representation in close coordination with the Message Generator in the speech production process, which generates conceptual representation for each utterance (Kita & Ozyurek, 2003). I will also present evidence that co-speech gesture facilitates speech production because they shape the ways we conceptualize our experiences, through four basic functions: gesture activates, manipulates, packages and explores spatio-motoric representations for the purposes of speaking (Kita, Chu, & Alibali, in press).


Lunch will be provided from 12:45. The seminar will commence at 13:00.

Please accept the invitation only if you will be attending for catering purposes.

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When and where

12.45pm - 2.00pmMonday 20th March 2017

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