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How reading in single- and multiple-column types influence our cognitive load: an EEG study

Hosam Al-Samarraie (School of Media and Performing Arts, Coventry University, Coventry, UK)
Atef Eldenfria (Faculty of Information Technology, Misurata University, Misrata, Libya)
Fahed Zaqout (School of Art and Sciences, American University of Ras Al Khaimah, Ras al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates)
Melissa Lee Price (Faculty of Theatre and Television, Babeş-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania)

The Electronic Library

ISSN: 0264-0473

Article publication date: 2 September 2019

Issue publication date: 16 October 2018

Abstract

Purpose

The impact of different screen-based typography styles on individuals’ cognitive processing of information has not been given much consideration in the literature, though such differences would imply different learning outcomes. This study aims to enrich the current understanding of the impact of reading in single- and multiple-column types on students’ cognitive processing.

Design/methodology/approach

An electroencephalogram (EEG) was used to record and analyze the brain signals of 27 students while reading from single- and multiple- column layouts.

Findings

The results showed a significant difference in students’ cognitive load when reading text from different types of columns. All students exerted less processing efforts when text was presented in two-column format, thus experiencing less cognitive load.

Originality/value

Using EEG, this study examined the neural consequences of reading in single- and multiple-column types on cognitive load during reading. The findings can be used to enrich the current instructional design practices on how different typographical formats facilitate learners’ cognitive performance.

Keywords

Citation

Al-Samarraie, H., Eldenfria, A., Zaqout, F. and Price, M.L. (2018), "How reading in single- and multiple-column types influence our cognitive load: an EEG study", The Electronic Library, Vol. 37 No. 4, pp. 593-606. https://doi.org/10.1108/EL-01-2019-0006

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited