Date of Graduation

Spring 2009


Master of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders


Communication Sciences and Disorders

Committee Chair

Ronald Netsell


Numerous studies have examined the role of manual gesture. Many researchers now believe that gestures may have multiple functions dependent upon type and context. One theory proposes that gesture production increases as a result of an increase in task complexity. The purpose of the present research is to determine the extent to which an increase in task complexity affects both speech and manual gesture. It is hypothesized that the use of manual gesture should increase as a result of an increase in task complexity. Twelve female Missouri State University students were recruited for participation in the study. Participants were randomly assigned to one of four groups. They were then asked to describe two picture stimuli from memory. The complexity of the picture description task was increased by the addition of a memory task and/or a video distracter. Each participant was video taped as they described the picture stimuli. Their total gestures, gesture type, and words produced were documented. Results did not support the hypothesis despite previous research indicating otherwise. Further research should be conducted and may help clinicians better serve individuals with aphasia.


gesture, task complexity and gesture production, speech and gesture production, cognitive load, aphasia, mirror neurons

Subject Categories

Communication Sciences and Disorders


© Amy Kathleen Peabody

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