Raise your hand if you’re spatial
Relations between verbal and spatial skills and gesture production
Individuals differ greatly in how often they gesture when they speak. This study investigated relations between speakers’ verbal and spatial skills and their gesture rates. Two types of verbal skill were measured: semantic fluency, which is thought to index efficiency with lexical access, and phonemic fluency, which is thought to index efficiency with organizing the lexicon in novel ways. Spatial skill was measured with a visualization task. We hypothesized that individuals with low verbal skill but high spatial visualization skill would gesture most often, due to having mental images not closely linked to verbal forms. This hypothesis was supported for phonemic fluency, but not for semantic fluency. We also found that individuals with low phonemic fluency and individuals with high phonemic fluency produced representational gestures at higher rates than individuals with average phonemic fluency. The findings indicate that individual differences in gesture production are associated with individual differences in cognitive skills.
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