Gestures for Thinking


Can our gestures help us think, and, if so, how? Previous work suggests that they can. Here, students, alone in a room, studied descriptions of environments for later tests of knowledge. The majority of participants spontaneously gestured while reading the descriptions, and most of those also gestured while answering true-false questions. They did not gesture proportionately more time for environments with many landmarks than for environments with few. Their gestures laid out the environments, primarily using points to places and lines for paths. Descriptions and questions accompanied by gestures were remembered more accurately. Participants rarely looked at their hands. Gestures seem to promote learning by establishing embodied representations of the environments.

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