“Think Before You Talk”

“…An empirical study of Relationship between Speech pauses adn Cognitive Load”

by M. Asif Khawaja, Natalie Ruiz, and Fang Chen (OzCHI 2008)

  1. Speech pauses are useful indicators of high load versus low load speech.
  2. Cognitive load refers to the amount of mental demand imposed on a person by a particular task, and has been associated with the limited capacity of working memory and the ability to process novel information.
  3. Patterns indicative of high load situations:
    1. content of language (throughput, coherency)
    2. delivery manner (pitch, volume, articulation rate)
    3. peak intonation patterns
  4. Traditionally in psychology, pauses during speech have been associated to a person’s thinking and cognitive processes. During each pause, he/she processes currently known information in the limited working memory to produce the next speech response.
  5. Used a “Dual Task” method to test theory: subject required to perform two tasks at the same time.
  6. Measured “silent pauses” (speechless segment) and “filled pauses” (ah…, hmm…, umm…)
  7. “Pausing in speech is a mechanism that allows the subject more time to plan, select and produce appropriate speech. This time is arguably used to regulate the pace of the information flow such that the subject is able to manage their cognitive load.”
  8. Found “silent pauses” to increase significantly under situations of high load.

My thoughts:

  • I found this to be a valid method to use during testing of my thesis.
  • My challenge to use this method, though, is to create a test that validly tests the cognitive load of multiple independent interfaces. They used speech and visuals for the dual-task test. Could I have the subject audibly repeat their actions in one interface while watching the results for another interface in the stack?
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