Effects of Gesture Inhibition on Working Memory
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Cognitive resources involved in inhibiting gesture were compared to those involved in describing with gesture and describing with action. Participants completed a dual-task paradigm. First, participants were asked to remember random letters and the letters’ locations in a grid. Then, they were instructed to describe a pattern of geometric shapes made up of dots and lines while gesturing, not gesturing, or recreating the pattern. Participants then recalled the letters and their locations’ in the grid. Participants’ verbal memory was affected by the description task, where there was significantly worse memory in the no gesture condition than in the gesture condition. There were no significant differences in verbal memory between the make condition and the other two conditions. Participants’ spatial memory was unaffected by the description task. In the future, this study can be repeated, however, with a higher spatial load in the description task. Overall, it is clear that there is a combination of gesture benefits and detrimental effects of gesture inhibition that affect working memory. Additional research should be conducted to better understand the effect of gesturing or not gesturing on working memory, as gesturing is an important part of communication.