A Hand To Mouth Existence

Last Thursday, my post reported on some studies of the effects on the facility with mental arithmetic of clenching our teeth when faced with difficult sums. The conclusion was that it didn’t help our calculations. But now the plot thickens. Lets come back to the picture of our trying to draw something and our tongue surreptitiously starts to poke out of the side of our mouth as we concentrate.  Maybe what we are doing with our mouth may not improve our math, but does it improve what we are doing with our hands?

The movements of our hands are effected by those of our mouth, and vice versa, according to the new work by Gentilucci and Campione of the Italian Inst. Of Tech. at Parma (1). They had some participants grab candies with their mouths while they were doing things with their hands, as well as doing things with their mouths while the were grasping with their hands. Their results showed a clear interaction between the mouth and hand actions. 

The idea follows that speech and gestures are unconsciously correlated. Italians are well known for doing a lot of “talking with their hands,” especially when something important is being discussed. It would be interesting to see if the results are the same with other cultures, perhaps, with a group from a more dour culture from cold, northern climes.

An interesting subsidiary finding was that vocalization did not correlate with foot motion. I guess this is pointing to the origin of the “foot in mouth” problem.

  1. http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0019793

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