Factoid: Meaningful gestures help people remember what you said


Pierre Feyereisen at the University of Louvain in Belgium studied the affects of hand gestures on memory of his students.

He found they remembered more sentences that were accompanied by a meaningful gesture (e.g. “the buyer went round the property”, accompanied by the actor pointing his right index finger downwards and drawing a circle”) than sentences accompanied by a meaningless gesture (e.g. “He runs to the nearest house” accompanied by the actor holding his right hand open, palm facing upwards).

Feyereisen suggests it is the meaning inherent in gestures that acts as a memory aid, rather than the mere act of gesturing.

I wonder if some gestures are redundant cues or additional cues to memory? How might visual cues on a computer screen affect memory?

Feyereisen, P. (2006). Further investigation on the mnemonic effect of gestures: Their meaning matters. European Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 18, 185-205.

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Robert Heiny
Robert W. Heiny, Ph.D. is a retired professor, social scientist, and business partner with previous academic appointments as a public school classroom teacher, senior faculty, or senior research member, and administrator. Appointments included at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Peabody College and the Kennedy Center now of Vanderbilt University; and Brandeis University. Dr. Heiny also served as Director of the Montana Center on Disabilities. His peer reviewed contributions to education include publication in [I]The Encyclopedia of Education [/I](1971), and in professional journals and conferences. He served s an expert reviewer of proposals to USOE, and on a team that wrote plans for 12 state-wide and multistate special education and preschools programs. He currently writes user guides for educators and learners as well as columns for [I]TuxReports[/I].com.