Wim Pouw Autumn B. Hostetter

Gesture as predictive action

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Two broad approaches have dominated the literature on the production of speech-accompanying gestures. On the one hand, there are approaches that aim to explain the origin of gestures by specifying the mental processes that give rise to them. On the other, there are approaches that aim to explain the cognitive function that gestures have for the gesturer or the listener. In the present paper we aim to reconcile both approaches in one single perspective that is informed by a recent sea change in cognitive science, namely, Predictive Processing Perspectives (PPP; Clark 2013b; 2015). We start with the idea put forth by the Gesture as Simulated Action (GSA) framework (Hostetter, Alibali 2008). Under this view, the mental processes that give rise to gesture are re-enactments of sensori-motor experiences (i.e., simulated actions). We show that such anticipatory sensori-motor states and the constraints put forth by the GSA framework can be understood as top-down kinesthetic predictions that function in a broader predictive machinery as proposed by PPP. By establishing this alignment, we aim to show how gestures come to fulfill a genuine cognitive function above and beyond the mental processes that give rise to gesture.


  • Gesture & Cognition
  • Gesture-As-Simulated Action
  • Predictive Processing
  • Problem Solving
  • Learning


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