Remembering What Was Said and Done: The Activation and Facilitation of Memory for Gesture as a Consequence of Retrieval

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The gestures that occur alongside speech provide listeners with cues that both improve and alter memory for speech. The present research investigated the interplay of gesture and speech by examining the influence of retrieval on memory for gesture. In three experiments, participants watched video clips of an actor speaking a series of statements with or without gesture before being asked to retrieve the speech portions of half of those statements. Participants were then tested on their ability to recall whether the actor had gestured during each statement and, if so, to recall the nature of the gesture that was produced. Results indicated that attempting to retrieve the speech portion of the statements enhanced participants’ ability to remember the gesture portion of the statements. This result was only observed, however, for representational gestures when the speech and gesture components were meaningfully related (Experiments 1 & 2). It was not observed for beat gestures or nonsense gestures (Experiments 2 & 3). These results are consistent with the idea that gestures can be coactivated during the retrieval of speech and that such coactivation is due to the integrated representation of speech and gesture in memory.

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