The effects of hand gestures on verbal recall as a function of high- and low-verbal-skill levels

J Gen Psychol. 2002 Apr;129(2):137-47. doi: 10.1080/00221300209603134.


The author examined the effects of cueing for verbal recall with the accompanying self-generated hand gestures as a function of verbal skill. There were 36 participants, half with low SAT verbal scores and half with high SAT verbal scores. Half of the participants of each verbal-skill level were cued for recall with their own gestures, and the remaining half was given a free-recall test. Cueing with self-generated gestures aided the low-verbal-skill participants so that their retrieval rate equaled that of the high-verbal-skill participants and their loss of recall over a 2-week period was minimal. This effect was stable for both concrete and abstract words. The findings support the hypothesis that gestures serve as an auxiliary code for memory retrieval.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cues
  • Female
  • Gestures*
  • Hand / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Recall / physiology*
  • Nonverbal Communication
  • Verbal Behavior*