Congruency effect between articulation and grasping in native English speakers

Tiainen, Mikko, Felisberti, Fatima M., Tiippana, Kaisa, Vainio, Martii, Simko, Juraj, Lukavsky, Jiri and Vainio, Lari (2016) Congruency effect between articulation and grasping in native English speakers. Proc. Interspeech, 2016, pp. 1108-1112. ISSN (online) 1990-9772


Previous studies have shown congruency effects between specific speech articulations and manual grasping actions. For example, uttering the syllable [kɑ] facilitates power grip responses in terms of reaction time and response accuracy. A similar association of the syllable [ti] with precision grip has also been observed. As these congruency effects have been to date shown only for Finnish native speakers, this study explored whether the congruency effects generalize to native speakers of another language. The original experiments were therefore replicated with English participants (N=16). Several previous findings were reproduced, namely the association of syllables [kɑ] and [ke] with power grip and of [ti] and [te] with precision grip. However, the association of vowels [ɑ] and [i] with power and precision grip, respectively, previously found for Finnish participants, was not significant for English speakers. This difference could be related to ambiguities of English orthography and pronunciation variations. It is possible that for English speakers seeing a certain written vowel activates several different phonological representations associated with that letter. If the congruency effects are based on interactions between specific phonological representations and grasp actions, this ambiguity might lead to weakening of the effects in the manner demonstrated here.

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