An Electrophysiological Assessment of Mental Fatigue during LCD versus E-Ink reading
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Early research comparing print versus electronic reading found that reading from screens leads to cognitive deficits across many dimensions. However, recent studies suggest that modern high definition displays may eliminate these deficits, despite users still rating print as preferred. The current study combined EEG and questionnaires to assess cortical arousal as an index of mental fatigue, as well as subjective visual fatigue and mental workload. College students rated their preference for electronic or print reading and participated in two sessions, each consisting of two 30-minute blocks of continuous reading while EEG was recorded. All subjects read from print in one session, and either an LCD or E-Paper device in the other. There were no effects of reading medium in any subjective report or EEG measure, despite subjects reporting an overwhelming preference for print reading. However, subjective results did show increased visual fatigue and decreased arousal over time, regardless of reading device. In agreement with recent studies, these results suggest that any deficits to high definition electronic reading may be purely due to subjective preference rather than differences in cognition. Subsequent EEG computations and statistical analyses could reveal more intricate time-sensitive or electrode-dependent differences between reading mediums.