Grasp observation influences speech production


: Dr Maurizio Gentilucci, as above.


Subjects pronounced either the syllable ‘BA’ or ‘GA’ while observing motor acts of hand grasp directed to objects of two sizes (experiment 1). Kinematics of lip aperture and amplitude spectrum of voice were influenced by the observation of the different grasp kinematics depending on the size of the target objects. Specifically, both lip aperture and voice peak amplitude were greater when the observed hand grasp was directed to the large object. Two control experiments ruled out that the different arm velocity when reaching objects varying in size (experiment 2), and overt visual analysis of the target-object (experiment 3), affected lip movement and voice emission. Results provide behavioural evidence in favour of the hypothesis that the system involved in observation (and preparation) of grasp movements partially shares the cortical areas involved in speech production.