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The Girlfriend's Guide to Health will be updated every Tuesday.... Stay tuned dear readers and let me rock your world.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Talk to the Hand

Sisters of mercy, welcome to another week. It has been almost 5 years since GGTH leapt upon the interweb in search of a voice and a self-centred purpose. Here we are more than 250 blogs later and might I say my girlfriends, sister is running out of things to say.

Here I was sitting on a plane just yesterday pondering the universe and the mountains below and yes… my mind was a blank. What wisdom would be my Tuesday rant? What to discuss this week?

I was stunted. Blank. That is until the woman sitting next to me leaned in and said….

“ I recognize you from TV. You are that doctor on the news”.
“ Yes I am”. I confessed.
“ You talk a lot with your hands.” She reported.
“ Indeed”.

And that was all.

I do talk a lot with my hands. In fact I gesture so much these days that I wonder if my Fitbit really does have me down for an average of 20,000 steps per day or is that just me- waving and flailing my arms around in protest?

Truth be told- there is indeed a lot to protest in the world these days. Never mind the usual injustices…. Here we are at 25,000 feet above sea level and some random stranger sitting next to me for the next hour feels the need to give me observational feedback on my behaviour that I can neither use nor correct?

And so, this woman (or perhaps it was the cabin pressure) flipped my neurotic switch.

Is it bad that I talk with my hands so much? Am I distracting from the message? Do I look like a fool flailing about? Should I watch myself and try and tone it down?

Shit no. I’m a hand talker…. Perfect stranger be damned. When I am passionate about a topic I gesture even more.

My husband (sweet soul that he is) has even named certain gestures of mine. When I am driving a point home I tend to “bring out the claw” This is a pointed claw like action that I have been known to favour in times where emphasis is paramount.

Said “Claw” is a favourite of mine. Indeed one anniversary, my beloved bought me a lovely silver cuff bracelet in order that “ the claw would have something fancy to wear”.

And so I sat there on that mid-size flight next to my random critic and pondered my handsy ways. I was a gesture-talker, a finger wager and someone who did not just make a point…. She pointed it.

Was this truly a social felony? Were my movements of my wrists and offensive move in themselves?

Turns out, this lady on the plane was indeed full of shit.

A study published out of Humboldt University in Germany shows that hand gestures is a sign of intelligence.

The study looked at 51 adolescents in Grade 11 at 3 different high schools in Berlin. Students were given IQ tests and assigned to one of three groups based on their scores.

The students were then asked to solve visual analogy problems. The problems involved being able to visually imagine rotating pieces on a chessboard.

Not surprisingly the students who higher scores in FLUID INTELLIEGENCE were able to solve the problems much better. Fluid Intelligence is the type of intelligence responsible for problem solving abilities.

The investigators then asked the students how they solved the problems.

Most surprising was that the students who had the highest levels of fluid intelligence gestured more.  More specifically, they made gestures with their hands or fingers that simulated circular movements around an axis.

The students all TALKED about the same things in their explanations, however, the most intelligent of students actually gestured along with their explanations more and even in a rotating fashion- mimicking how the problems would be solved.

The researchers went on to do MRI scans of the subjects brains and found that the cortical tissue in several areas of the brain was thicker in those students with higher fluid intelligence.

Several other studies have shown similar relationships between intelligence and hand gestures. Furthermore, certain studies have confirmed an association between brain function on MRI and hand gesturing.

We do not know yet whether gesturing facilitates the development of fluid intelligence or whether it is a by-product. But we do know that children who are asked to gesture in certain ways while learning new tasks learn better than children who are asked not to gesture.
Mounting evidence has also shown that hand gestures when done properly do indeed emphasize and legitimize a message rather than diluting it.

One such article published in Psychology Today in 2012 shows that certain gestures convey certain messages. For example, palms up convey honesty, palms down is certainty. The “didactic” which is described as a “sweeping claw” (pretend you are holding a bottle of water…. Now lift up your index finger and separate it from the fist as though to make a point) conveys intelligence.

It turns out that my CLAW is a dead ringer for the “didactic” (and my claw has a fabulous silver cuff bracelet on it.


There you have it sisters… make your point here (and there) and point it out- wave your hands and shout it out…. The world is watching and so am I. Talk it out my sweet sisters of mercy and by all means- use your hands…. Not only does it shows you care… it shows that your brain is bigger than the brains of other peoples’. And if by some reason you get a little self conscious about the fingers and wrists moving about…. Get a fabulous piece of jewelry to put on display…. Every sister loves a good show now and then.

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