Communicative Gestures and Memory Load

Abstract

Previous research has shown that (co-speech) hand gestures sometimes aid cognition and can reduce a speaker’s cognitive load. We argue that this is not the case for gestures that are produced primarily to communicate, which we think come at a cognitive cost to speakers instead. In a production experiment with a narrative task, we show that speakers gesture more frequently with a less demanding task, but only if speaker and addressee can see each other. Our results support our theory, without contradicting previous findings.


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