The Role of Working Memory Componentsin Multimedia Comprehension
*, ERIC JAMET
and VE´RONIQUE DUBOIS
University Paris Descartes, France
Universite´ Rennes 2, France
SUMMARYThis article argues that conducting experiments involving the ability to control and even manipulatethe cognitive load in working memory (WM; storage and or processing load) should make it possibleto identify the processes involved during the integration of information coming from multiplesources. Some experiments using the dual-task paradigm are reviewed, and an original experimentusing complex multimedia material is presented. Overall, the experiments show that even in caseswhere subjects have to navigate between different types of information and have to integrate variousitems of information, the verbal storage component of WM is important in permitting comprehen-sion. Visuospatial WM is in addition involved as soon as visuospatial processing is required. Storageof verbal information does not however depend on the modality of presentation and the classicalmodality effect appears to depend on individual differences. Some theoretical and practicalimplications of these results are drawn. Copyright
2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
In the context of the development of new technologies for the communication of information, multimedia systems are developing quickly and raise many questions,especially with reference to education. A multimedia system can be deﬁned as a systemwhich requires the integration of different types of information: verbal informationpresented visually or auditorily (e.g. words, sentences or short texts), pictorial informationpresented visually in a static or dynamic way (illustrations, photographs, diagrams) andsound information. In addition, systems that allow users to navigate between differentsources of information through the use of hypertext structures are often considered to bemultimedia systems, even if only one type of information is provided (for example, verbalinformation presented visually). To what extent does the use of such systems make apositivecontributiontothelearningprocess?Thereisastrongtemptationtosimplyassumethat using various information presentation formats, using realistic and vivid presentationsand providing multiple possibilities for interaction with a learning system generally resultsin better learning. The acquisition of information via any technical system remains,however, subject to the constraints of human information processing. Existing models of multimedia comprehension originate from text comprehension models (e.g. Schnotz,2005) or from research into the effect of illustrations (e.g. Mayer, 2001). One core conceptAPPLIED COGNITIVE PSYCHOLOGY
Appl. Cognit. Psychol.
: 353–374 (2008)Published online in Wiley InterScience(www.interscience.wiley.com) DOI: 10.1002/acp.1411
*Correspondence to: Vale´rie Gyselinck, Laboratoire Psychologie et Neurosciences Cognitives, Universite´ParisDescartes, CNRS FRE 2987, 71 av E. Vaillant, 92774 Boulogne-Billancourt cedex, France.E-mail: email@example.com
2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.