Psychology Seminar: Demet Özer (Koç University)

Psychology Seminar: Demet Özer (Koç University, Department of Psychology, Language & Cognition Lab  )

Date and Time: December 01, 2021, 16.40-17.40

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Meeting ID: 986 4326 0809
Passcode: 200675

Title:  Multimodal Language: Cognitive and Contextual Correlates of Gesture Use and Processing

Abstract: Natural face-to-face communication is a multimodal activity in which two or more interlocutors interact by exchanging several communicative cues that stem from different modalities such as speech, visible speech, eye-gaze, and bodily gestures. My work focuses on one of these multimodal cues: co-speech iconic hand gestures, which are spontaneous hand movements that co-occur with the relevant speech segments and represent object attributes, events, and actions. My general area of research is on how speakers and listeners coordinate speech and co-speech gestures during communication and thinking, with a focus on the possible internal (i.e., individual variation in cognitive resources) and external (i.e., contextual factors) sources of variation in these processes. In this talk, I will present two lines of research: (1) gesture production: the role of communicative proficiency (e.g., in people with speech impairments, elderly individuals, and non-native speakers) on gesture use during speaking, and (2) gesture processing: the role of visual-spatial abilities and the complementary distribution of semantic information across speech vs. gesture on listeners’ multimodal language comprehension. In my talk, I will discuss that speakers and listeners employ gestures to a varying extent and for multiple purposes, which interact with individuals’ cognitive dispositions and the relative communicative value of the gestures. I will also talk about my future research agenda by discussing areas open to further investigation. 

Bio: Demet received her Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from Koç University, Istanbul in 2020. She is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Language and Cognition Lab ( and a part-time instructor at Koç University. Her broad area of research is human language as a multimodal and situated phenomenon. She investigates how speakers and listeners coordinate speech and spontaneous co-speech hand gestures during language production and comprehension.