The Role of Cognitive Load and Spatial Abilities on Gesture Production

  • Author / Creator
    Bahmani, Bayimkhanim
  • Cognitive load theory posits that due to our limited cognitive resources, gestures can be used as external storage to maintain some of the information as the load increases. In this study, we used a narrative task to examine the significance of cognitive load and spatial abilities on gesture production. We designed three conditions, each with an increasing level of difficulty and predicted that the highest level of difficulty would result in the highest rate of gestures. We also investigated the role of spatial abilities, specifically spatial visualization and spatial short-term memory, measured by the Mental Rotation and Corsi Block tests. Previous studies have found that cognitive load affects representational gesture production and we expected to replicate those results. Additionally, we coded for non-representational gestures and made no predictions about their relationship to cognitive load. The results showed that higher levels of cognitive load were associated with increased rates of both representational and nonrepresentational gestures. We found no evidence for the effect of spatial abilities on either gesture type. These findings demonstrate that increased cognitive demands, such as remembering and recalling complex narratives, are associated with higher rates of gestures.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2023
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.