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Reactivation processes when reading illustrated texts

Multiple Representations 
01/2021 – 12/2023
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)
Project description

Often, information is conveyed through illustrated texts. While there are many models regarding the cognitive processes involved in reading, there is little research on how pictures influence these processes. By better understanding the cognitive processes that take place when reading illustrated text, it is possible to extend existing theories. This knowledge is relevant wherever learning through illustrated texts occurs e.g., in (higher) education.

The theoretical basis of the dissertation project is the resonance-integration-validation model (RI-Val) by O'Brien and colleagues, which originates from text comprehension research. According to this model, three cognitive processes occur during reading: Reactivation, integration, and validation. First, concepts that are related and similar to the text content are (re)activated. Importantly, this reactivation process is automatically and "dumb" in the sense that it (re)activates all information overlapping with the content just read. The activated information is integrated with the newly read content and then validated, i.e., it is checked whether the integrated information holds up against general knowledge and already read content. According to the model, all three processes run automatically, in parallel, and cyclically.

However, it is questionable to what extent pictures influence the described processes. Previous studies show that information additionally conveyed via pictures remains better in memory. It is, therefore, possible that pictures can also positively influence and, for example, accelerate the processes of reactivation, integration, and validation.

To investigate this, we use the contradiction paradigm. In this paradigm, (in)consistent texts are presented to the reader. In the current project, we additionally illustrated the (in)consistent information by pictures. By measuring the reading time, among other things, we can draw conclusions about the cognitive processes taking place.


Pauline Frick Pauline Frick
Tel.: +49 7071 979-218

Project team

Dr. Anne Schüler