Cognitive Resources Engaged in the Comprehension of Iconic Gestures
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The field of gesture research has experienced tremendous growth in recent years. Research has shown that gesturing while speaking improves communication, making the speaker more efficient at conveying his or her message, as well as offering benefits to working memory. Most of the research in this area has focused on how producing gestures aids the speaker's working memory, the present study investigates how seeing gesture aids comprehension of a spoken message and what aspects of working memory are involved in comprehending these messages. We gathered useable data from 74 participants (25 males, 49 females) between the ages 18 and 62 (M= 35.8 years) through Amazon's mechanical turk (mTurk). MTurk is an online service that allows researchers to post surveys and experiments, called "hits" that are open to "workers" who complete surveys for a small monetary reward. For the experiment participant's completed 12 trials, with each trial being made up of a memory task and a comprehension task. Results indicated that seeing gestures improved participant's recall for verbal, but not spatial, information on the memory task, but that there was no difference for performance on the comprehension task between the gesture and non-gesture conditions. Any benefit for verbal recall gained by seeing gesture was not offset by losses in spatial recall.