GoThink – Really True? How Gestures Affect Logical Thinking in Children

The project GoThink investigates how iconic gestures and working memory support logical-abstract thinking during on-line sentence comprehension in primary school-aged children.

Project Description

Recent studies on language acquisition show that iconic gestures boost vocabulary learning. However, little is known about how gestures support on-line abstract-logical thinking and the role of working memory in this process.

The aim of the project is to investigate the neurocognitive mechanisms of this interaction in an EEG experiment. The focus is on the processing of sentences containing the word some, which relates different quantities to each other. Such sentences have been reported to be processed differently by adults and children. For instance, the sentence Some elephants have trunks is logically true: If all elephants have trunks, some of them do as well. Nevertheless, adults often reject such sentences as false because they often interpret the word some as 'some but not all': Some elephants have trunks, but not all elephants have trunks. This interpretation is called implicature. At a specific phase of child development, children do not seem to draw such implicatures which is a starting point for the current investigations.

We examine whether first and second grade students use gestural information to aid implicature processing and interpret these sentences in an improved way. The results of the project offer links for support in primary school that focuses on the learning of core mathematical skills such as set theory.

Project Objectives

The project explores which gestures children and adults use when uttering sentences with implicatures. Behavioural and EEG data will then provide initial findings on the influence of these gestures on logical-abstract thinking.


IDeA Center



Augurzky, P., Franke, M., & Ulrich, R. (2019). Gricean expectations in online sentence comprehension: An ERP study on the processing of scalar inferences. Cognitive Science, 43(8):e12776. doi:10.1111/cogs.12776

Brod, G., Greve, A., Jolles, D., Theobald, M., & Galeano-Keiner, E. M. (2022). Explicitly predicting outcomes enhances learning of expectancy-violating information. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. doi:10.3758/s13423-022-02124-x

Ebert, Ch., Ebert, C., & Hörnig, R. (2018). Vocabulary learning improves with interactive finger gestures. In Rothkopf, C., Balfanz, D., Galuske, R., Jäkel, F., Kersting, K., Macke, J., & Mohler, B. (Eds.), KOGWIS 2018: Computational Approaches to Cognitive Science. Proceedings of the 14th Biannual Conference of the German Society for Cognitive Science. TU Darmstadt.

Galeano Weber, E. M., Dirk, J., & Schmiedek, F. (2018). Variability in the precision of children’s spatial working memory. Journal of Intelligence, 6(1), 8. doi:10.3390/jintelligence6010008

Project Management

Dr. Elena Galeano Weber

Project Details

Current project
Area of Focus Differential Educational Conditions and Educational Trajectories
Department: Education and Human Development
Unit: Development of Successful Learning
07/2022 – 09/2024
External funding
Contact: Dr. Elena Galeano Weber, Academic Staff