Conversation and Coordinative Structures

  • Shockley K
  • Richardson D
  • Dale R
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People coordinate body postures and gaze patterns during conversation. We review literature showing that (1) action embodies cognition, (2) postural coordination emerges spontaneously when two people converse, (3) gaze patterns influence postural coordination, (4) gaze coordination is a function of common ground knowledge and visual information that conversants believe they share, and (5) gaze coordination is causally related to mutual understanding. We then consider how coordination, generally, can be understood as temporarily coupled neuromuscular components that function as a collective unit known as a coordinative structure in the motor control literature. We speculate that the coordination of gaze and body sway found in conversation may be understood as a cross-person coordinative structure that embodies the goals of the joint action system.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Coordination
  • Dynamical systems
  • Language

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  • Kevin Shockley

  • Daniel C. Richardson

  • Rick Dale

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