Phonological working memory impacts on information searching: an investigation of dyslexia

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MacFarlane, A. ; Albrair, A. ; Marshall, C. R. ; Buchanan, G. (2012)

A key aspect of searching is the ability of users to absorb information from documents read in order to resolve their ask. One group of users who have problems with reading are dyslexic users, who due to underlying cognitive impairments in phonological processing and working memory, tend to read more slowly and make reading errors. The purpose of this study is to examine the impact of the dyslexia cognitive profile on information searching. Searches were logged for 8 dyslexic and 8 non-dyslexic university students, in order to examine the differences in searching behavior between the two groups. A set of literacy and phonological working memory tasks were also completed, in order to investigate the relationship between these cognitive variables and searching behavior. Results show that there is a significant difference between the two groups on the number of documents being judged irrelevant, and that this cannot be explained by a topic effect. Instead, the number of documents judged irrelevant is significantly correlated with a measure of working memory. This key result provides the research community the first real insight into impact of impaired short term memory on information searching.
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