Mathematical concepts and words for objects are generally thought of as abstract and disembodied. In this theoretical paper, I review a line of research demonstrating that hand gestures are important for mathematical thinking. Gestures are spontaneously produced in conversations about mathematical concepts, these gestures can influence speakersâ processing, and gestures are implicated in changing childrenâs and adultsâ mathematical thinking. This work offers evidence that mathematical representations may not be as abstract and disembodied as they seem, but rather may be supported by embodied representations. This example suggests that the body, and its affordance for action in the world, is important for conceptual development.
KEYWORDS: gesture, mathematics, learning, embodied cognition, cognitive development