The role of spontaneous gestures in spatial problem solving

Chu, M., & Kita, S. (2012). The role of spontaneous gestures in spatial problem solving. In E. Efthimiou, G. Kouroupetroglou, & S.-E. Fotinea (Eds.), Gesture and sign language in human-computer interaction and embodied communication: 9th International Gesture Workshop, GW 2011, Athens, Greece, May 25-27, 2011, revised selected papers (pp. 57-68). Heidelberg: Springer.
When solving spatial problems, people often spontaneously produce hand gestures. Recent research has shown that our knowledge is shaped by the interaction between our body and the environment. In this article, we review and discuss evidence on: 1) how spontaneous gesture can reveal the development of problem solving strategies when people solve spatial problems; 2) whether producing gestures can enhance spatial problem solving performance. We argue that when solving novel spatial problems, adults go through deagentivization and internalization processes, which are analogous to young children’s cognitive development processes. Furthermore, gesture enhances spatial problem solving performance. The beneficial effect of gesturing can be extended to non-gesturing trials and can be generalized to a different spatial task that shares similar spatial transformation processes.
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