I'm a cognitive scientist studying how people communicate and think. My primary focus is visual forms of communication — including the gestures that speakers produce, the signs of sign language, and graphical representations like timelines. My projects have involved experiments in the lab, analyses of multimodal corpora, and fieldwork in Papua New Guinea and Mexico.

For more info, check out the rest of this site, see my CV, send me an email (kensy at, or find me on Twitter: @kensycoop



January 2019 – Read my essay for Aeon about the global loss of human cognitive diversity.

January 2019 – Check out our new study comparing pointing gestures and pointing signs.

July 2018 – I was in Madison, Wisconsin for CogSci 2018. I presented new work with Dedre Gentner on the historical development of measurement units. Read the proceedings paper here

July 2018 – I was in Cape Town, South Africa for the 8th meeting of the International Society for Gesture Studies (ISGS). I presented two talks as part of the special focus on the 'Anthropology of Gesture.'

June 2018 – Check out our new review article on the meanings and origins of palm-up gestures.

May 2018 – Read my essay for Aeon about an old and still-intuitive idea: that gesture is a universal language.

February 2018 – Read my piece for The Conversation about pointing across cultures. 


Popular writing

January 2019. What happens to cognitive diversity when everyone is more WEIRD? Aeon.

May 2018. From pointing to nodding: Is gesture a universal language? Aeon.

February 2018. The way humans point isn't as universal as you might thinkThe Conversation. 

May 2017. Making the rounds. Science.

November 2016. How we make sense of timeScientific American–Mind. (w/ Rafael Núñez)

October 2016. Framing the world in terms of “left” and “right” is stranger than you thinkNautilus (blog).

March 2016. Why natural selection became Darwin’s fittest metaphor for evolutionNautilus (blog).