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Chapter 20. Microgenesis of gestures during mental rotation tasks recapitulates ontogenesis

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Abstract

People spontaneously produce gestures when they solve problems or explain their solutions to a problem. In this chapter, we will review and discuss evidence on the role of representational gestures in problem solving. The focus will be on our recent experiments (Chu & Kita, 2008), in which we used Shepard-Metzler type of mental rotation tasks to investigate how spontaneous gestures revealed the development of problem solving strategy over the course of the experiment and what role gesture played in the development process. We found that when solving novel problems regarding the physical world, adults go through similar symbolic distancing (Werner & Kaplan, 1963) and internalization (Piaget, 1968) processes as those that occur during young children’s cognitive development and gesture facilitates such processes.

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