Cognitive processes and digital reading

Judith Wylie, Jenny Thomson, Paavo Leppanen, Rakefet Ackerman, Laura Kanniainen, Tanja Prieler

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Regardless of the medium, reading is a complex skill involving the execution and coordination of many cognitive processes. Reading comprehension in skilled readers is the end-product of processes that are fast, efficient, interactive and strategic. These processes, some of which may be described as lower level (e.g. word recognition) and some as higher level (e.g. inference-making), rely on aspects of executive function including attention, working memory, executive control and metacognition. This chapter examines the involvement of these four aspects in both print and digital reading. We explore how on-screen reading of linear and non-linear text (hypertext) makes additional demands on executive function, potentially threatening comprehension and learning. We also consider how technology may confer processing advantages for readers with particular difficulties. Recommendations aimed at preventing shallow processing when engaging with digital text are presented. Having reviewed the literature, we speculate on how the potential of technology may be harnessed in order to encourage reading, to improve assessment, and to increase knowledge.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLearning to Read in a Digital World
EditorsMirit Barzillai, Jenny Thomson, Sascha Schroeder, Paul van den Broek
PublisherJohn Benjamins
Number of pages34
ISBN (Electronic)978 90 272 6371 1
ISBN (Print)978 90 272 0122 5
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018

Publication series

NameStudies in Written Language and Literacy,
PublisherJohn Benjamins

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