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“TOT” phenomena: Gesture production in younger and older adults

Theochaaropoulou, F., Cocks, N., Pring, T. & Dipper, L. (2015). “TOT” phenomena: Gesture production in younger and older adults. Psychology and Aging, 30(2), pp. 245-252. doi: 10.1037/a0038913


This study explored age-related changes in gesture in order to better understand the relationship between gesture and word retrieval from memory. The frequency of gestures during “Tip-of-the-Tongue” (TOT) states highlights this relationship. There is a lack of evidence describing the form and content of iconic gestures arising spontaneously in such TOT states, and a parallel gap addressing age-related variations. In this study, TOT states were induced in 45 participants from two age groups (older and younger adults) using a pseudoword paradigm. The type and frequency of gestures produced was recorded during two experimental conditions (single-word retrieval/ narrative task). We found that both groups experienced a high number of TOT states, during which they gestured. Iconic co-TOT gestures were more common than non-iconic gestures. Whilst there was no age-effect on the type of gestures produced, there was a significant, task-specific, age difference in the amount of gesturing. That is, younger adults gestured more in the narrative task, whereas older adults generated more gestures on the single-word retrieval task. Task-specific age differences suggest that there are age-related differences in terms of the cognitive operations involved in TOT gesture production.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: Copyright APA 2015. This article may not exactly replicate the final version published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record.
Publisher Keywords: Aging, Cognition, Gesture production, Language, Tip-of-the-Tongue
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Language & Communication Science
SWORD Depositor:
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