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Suppressing Visual Feedback in written composition: Effects on Processing Demands and Coordination of the Writing

By Olive Thierry and Piolat Annie


The goal of this experiment was to investigate the role of visual feedback during written composition. Effects of suppression of visual feedback were analyzed both on processing demands and on on-line coordination of low-level execution processes and of high-level conceptual and linguistic processes. Writers composed a text and copied it either with or without visual feedback. Processing demands of the writing processes were evaluated with reaction times to secondary auditory probes, which were analyzed according to whether participants were handwriting (in a composing and a copying task) or engaged in high-level processes (when pausing in a composing task). Suppression of visual feedback increased reaction time interference (secondary reaction time minus baseline reaction time) during handwriting in the copying task and not during pauses in the composing task. This suggests that suppression of visual feedback only affected processing demands of execution processes and not those of high-level conceptual and linguistic processes. This is confirmed by analysis of the quality of the texts produced by participants, which were little, if at all, affected by the suppression of visual feedback. Results also indicate that the increase in processing demands of execution related to suppression of visual feedback affected on-line coordination of the writing processes. Indeed, when visual feedback was suppressed, reaction time interferences associated with handwriting were not reliably different in the copying task or the composing task but were significantly different when visual feedback was not suppressed: They were lower in the copying task than in the composition task. When visual feedback was suppressed, writers activated step-by-step execution processes and high-level writing processes, whereas they concurrently activated these writing processes when composing with visual feedback

Topics: Cognitive Psychology
Year: 2002
OAI identifier:

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