Shades of grey: a look at how the brain processes typographic information
|When||Wed 10 Oct 1425|
In a recent study Diemand-Yauman et al. (2011) suggests that more difficult to read (disfluent) typefaces lead to better learning of information. Termed ‘desirable difficulties’, it is suggested that content that is harder to learn may lead to deeper processing and improved retention and retrieval of content. It is easy to see how learning tasks that require more cognitive engagement are desirable; however, it is suggested that texts that push the boundaries of legibility do not fall into this category. Diemand-Yauman, et al.’s study relies on behavioural data and it is therefore difficult to know how the information is actually being processed by readers, whether additional effort is used to read disfluent texts, and whether it is likely that that effort can be sustained over time.
With the use of an electroencephalogram (EEG) the brain’s electrical activity can be measured while processing letters, words, and sentences presented in different typefaces. This data may provide the understanding necessary to determine how typeface affects the processing and retrieval of letter and word information.
The utility of using EEG technology to investigate the processing of typographic information will be discussed along with pilot results from two experimental paradigms that investigate how the brain processes letters, words, and sentences across typeface. By looking at how the brain processes typographic information, rather than behavioural responses or reports in isolation, a unique and valuable method for investigating ‘desirable difficulties’ is presented.
Diemand-Yauman, C., Oppenheimer, D., & Vaughan, E. (2011). Fortune favors the bold (and the italicized): effects of disfluency on educational outcomes. Cognition, 118, 111–115.