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Measuring the effect of Think Aloud Protocols on workload using fNIRS

Pike, Matthew F.; Maior, Horia A.; Porcheron, Martin; Sharples, Sarah C.; Wilson, Max L.

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Matthew F. Pike

Horia A. Maior

Martin Porcheron

Sarah C. Sharples


The Think Aloud Protocol (TAP) is a verbalisation technique widely employed in HCI user studies to give insight into user experience, yet little work has explored the impact that TAPs have on participants during user studies. This paper utilises a brain sensing technique, fNIRS, to observe the effect that TAPs have on participants. Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) is a brain sensing technology that offers the potential to provide continuous, detailed insight into brain activity, enabling an objective view of cognitive processes during complex tasks. Participants were asked to perform a mathematical task under 4 conditions: nonsense verbalisations, passive concurrent think aloud protocol, invasive concurrent think aloud protocol, and a baseline of silence. Subjective ratings and performance measures were collected during the study. Our results provide a novel view into the effect that different forms of verbalisation have on workload during tasks. Further, the results provide a means for estimating the effect of spoken artefacts when measuring workload, which is another step towards our goal of proactively involving fNIRS analysis in ecologically valid user studies.


Pike, M. F., Maior, H. A., Porcheron, M., Sharples, S. C., & Wilson, M. L. (2014). Measuring the effect of Think Aloud Protocols on workload using fNIRS. .

Conference Name Proceedings of the 32nd Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Start Date Apr 26, 2014
End Date May 1, 2014
Acceptance Date Apr 26, 2014
Publication Date Apr 26, 2014
Deposit Date Jan 22, 2016
Publicly Available Date Jan 22, 2016
Publisher Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Series Title CHI '14
ISBN 978-1-4503-2473-1
Keywords bci, fnirs, functional near-infrared spectroscopy, hci, human cognition, think aloud protocol
Public URL
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Additional Information Published in: Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '14). New York : ACM, 2014. ISBN 9781450324731 pp. 3807-3816, DOI: 10.1145/2556288.2556974


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