Alibali, M. W., Kita, S., & Young, A. J.
(2000). Gesture and the process of speech production: We think, therefore we gesture. Language and Cognitive Processes, 15(6), 593-613. doi:10.1080/016909600750040571.
At what point in the process of speech production is gesture involved? According to the Lexical Retrieval Hypothesis, gesture is involved in generating the surface forms of utterances. Specifically, gesture facilitates access to items in the mental lexicon. According to the Information Packaging Hypothesis, gesture is involved in the conceptual planning of messages. Specifically, gesture helps speakers to ''package'' spatial information into verbalisable units. We tested these hypotheses in 5-year-old children, using two tasks that required comparable lexical access, but different information packaging. In the explanation task, children explained why two items did or did not have the same quantity (Piagetian conservation). In the description task, children described how two items looked different. Children provided comparable verbal responses across tasks; thus, lexical access was comparable. However, the demands for information packaging differed. Participants' gestures also differed across the tasks. In the explanation task, children produced more gestures that conveyed perceptual dimensions of the objects, and more gestures that conveyed information that differed from the accompanying speech. The results suggest that gesture is involved in the conceptual planning of speech.