The Effortfulness Hypothesis suggests that sensory impairment (either simulated or age-related) may decrease capacity for semantic integration in language comprehension. We directly tested this hypothesis by measuring resource allocation to different levels of processing during reading (i.e.,word vs. semantic analysis). College students read three sets of passages word-by-word, one at each of three levels of dynamic visual noise. There was a reliable interaction between processing level and noise, such that visual noise increased resources allocated to word level processing, at the cost of attention paid to semantic analysis. Recall of the most important ideas also decreased with increasing visual noise. Results suggest that sensory challenge can impair higher-level cognitive functions in learning from text, supporting the Effortfulness Hypothesis.
- Resource allocation
- Visual noise
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology