CHICAGO (Reuters) – Forget about what mom said about keeping your hands in your lap while talking.
Gesturing while speaking appears to free up the brain to perform other tasks, such as remembering a list, scientists said on Thursday.
In experiments with nearly 100 adults and children, psychologists at the University of Chicago found that gesturing while explaining a math problem improved the recall of a previously memorized list of numbers or letters.
To draw the conclusion, memory test results were compared when subjects were permitted to gesture and when they were told to keep their hands still.
The value of gesturing to convey meaning to the listener has been shown in previous research, but it also may help the conveyor of the information, researchers Susan Goldin-Meadow, Howard Nusbaum, Spencer Kelly and Susan Wagner wrote in a report published in the journal Psychological Science.
They said that even blind people gesture with their hands when talking to blind listeners, suggesting another purpose to all the hand-waving.
“Producing gestures can actually lighten a speaker’s burden,” they wrote. The report suggested that by tapping into a different part of the brain dealing with visual and spatial subject matter, gesturing may make demands on other memory stores and allow the speaker to remember more.
“Whatever the mechanism, our findings suggest that gesturing can help to free up cognitive resources that can then be used elsewhere. Traditional injunctions against gesturing while speaking may, in the end, be ill-advised,” they wrote.
NOTE: complete details of this same story can found here