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Abstract

When people talk, they move their hands—they gesture. Although these movements might appear to be meaningless hand waving, in fact they convey substantive information that is not always found in the accompanying speech. As a result, gesture can provide insight into thoughts that speakers have but do not know they have. Even more striking, gesture can mark a speaker as being in transition with respect to a task—learners who are on the verge of making progress on a task routinely produce gestures that convey information that is different from the information conveyed in speech. Gesture can thus be used to predict who will learn. In addition, evidence is mounting that gesture not only presages learning but also can play a role in bringing that learning about. Gesture can cause learning indirectly by influencing the learning environment or directly by influencing learners themselves. We can thus change our minds by moving our hands. WIREs Cogni Sci 2011 2 595–607 DOI: 10.1002/wcs.132

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