Measuring the effect of think aloud protocols on workload using fNIRS

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

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCHI 2014
Subtitle of host publicationOne of a CHInd - Conference Proceedings, 32nd Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)9781450324731
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Event32nd Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2014 - Toronto, ON, Canada
Duration: 26 Apr 20141 May 2014

Publication series

NameConference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings


Conference32nd Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2014
CityToronto, ON


  • BCI
  • Functional near-infrared spectroscopy
  • HCI
  • Human cognition
  • Think Aloud Protocol

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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