Body movement during speech: Period analysis of upper arms and head movement

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The study of speech-related ('coverbal') body movement may potentially facilitate the understanding of language processing and speech control, but has suffered from difficult methodological problems, primarily of a technical nature. To resolve these, the present study employed a new computerised system, CODA-3, which locates small prismatic markers and computes by triangulation their 3-D position at 100 Hz. It was used to monitor movement of the head and the upper arms of 10 subjects engaged in speech during a naturalistic interview. Movement analysis was based on automatised identification of successive movement extrema ('period analysis') and the computation of amplitude, duration and velocity of each period. The results showed systematic velocity differences between postural sway and voluntary movement. Head movement was substantially more frequent than upper arm movement, and the dominant arm moved more than the non-dominant arm. Head, but not arm, movement correlated significantly, with speech rate. Duration of movement was stable across subjects and classified into 4 kinematic classes, as in Hader et al. (1983a). Implications are discussed for speech productive functions of body movement, their dissociation between the head and the arms, and their locus of control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)419-446
Number of pages28
JournalHuman Movement Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1991


Dive into the research topics of 'Body movement during speech: Period analysis of upper arms and head movement'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this