Producing gestures facilitates encoding of spatial relation

Abstract

This paper examines whether producing gestures would facilitate encoding of spatial relation in a navigation task. In this experiment, we focused on gestures produced without accompanying speech. Adult participants were asked to study spatial sequence of routes shown in four diagrams, one at a time. Participants rehearsed the routes with gestures, actual hand movements (actually drew the routes on papers), or mental simulation. They then were asked to reconstruct the routes with sticks. Participants who moved their hands (either in the form of gestures or actual drawing) recalled better than those who mentally simulated the routes and those who did not rehearse, suggesting that hand movements produced during rehearsal facilitate encoding of spatial relation. Interestingly, participants who gestured the routes in the air recalled better than those who drew them on papers, suggesting that gesture, as a kind of representational action, exerts more powerful influence on spatial relation encoding.


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