Modality-Specific Effects of Perceptual Load in Multimedia Processing

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2439

Article | Open Access

Modality-Specific Effects of Perceptual Load in Multimedia Processing


  • Jacob Taylor Fisher Department of Communication, Media Neuroscience Lab, University of California Santa Barbara, USA
  • Frederic René Hopp Department of Communication, Media Neuroscience Lab, University of California Santa Barbara, USA
  • René Weber Department of Communication, Media Neuroscience Lab, University of California Santa Barbara, USA


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Abstract:  Digital media are sensory-rich, multimodal, and often highly interactive. An extensive collection of theories and models within the field of media psychology assume the multimodal nature of media stimuli, yet there is current ambiguity as to the independent contributions of visual and auditory content to message complexity and to resource availability in the human processing system. In this article, we argue that explicating the concepts of perceptual and cognitive load can create progress toward a deeper understanding of modality-specific effects in media processing. In addition, we report findings from an experiment showing that perceptual load leads to modality-specific reductions in resource availability, whereas cognitive load leads to a modality-general reduction in resource availability. We conclude with a brief discussion regarding the critical importance of separating modality-specific forms of load in an increasingly multisensory media environment.

Keywords:  media psychology; modality; multimedia processing; perceptual load; resource availability

Published:   20 December 2019


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/mac.v7i4.2388


© Jacob Taylor Fisher, Frederic René Hopp, René Weber. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.