Send to

Choose Destination
J Exp Child Psychol. 2012 Apr;111(4):587-606. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2011.11.009. Epub 2011 Dec 28.

Learning what children know about space from looking at their hands: the added value of gesture in spatial communication.

Author information

Department of Psychology, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 60208, USA.


This article examines two issues: the role of gesture in the communication of spatial information and the relation between communication and mental representation. Children (8-10 years) and adults walked through a space to learn the locations of six hidden toy animals and then explained the space to another person. In Study 1, older children and adults typically gestured when describing the space and rarely provided spatial information in speech without also providing the information in gesture. However, few 8-year-olds communicated spatial information in speech or gesture. Studies 2 and 3 showed that 8-year-olds did understand the spatial arrangement of the animals and could communicate spatial information if prompted to use their hands. Taken together, these results indicate that gesture is important for conveying spatial relations at all ages and, as such, provides us with a more complete picture of what children do and do not know about communicating spatial relations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center