When gestures show us the way: Co-thought gestures selectively facilitate navigation and spatial memory
SourceSpatial Cognition & Computation
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How does gesturing during route learning relate to subsequent spatial performance? We examined the relationship between gestures produced spontaneously while studying route directions and spatial representations of the navigated environment. Participants studied route directions, then navigated those routes from memory in a virtual environment, and finally had their memory of the environment assessed. We found that, for navigators with low spatial perspective-taking performance on the Spatial Orientation Test, more gesturing from a survey perspective predicted more accurate memory following navigation. Thus, co-thought gestures accompanying route learning relate to performance selectively, depending on the gesturers’ spatial ability and the perspective of their gestures. Survey gestures may help some individuals visualize an overall route that they can retain in memory.