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Cognitive processes in writing during pause and execution periods

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The present study investigated how writing processes are activated during pause and execution periods. In two experiments, handwriting demands were manipulated by asking participants to compose with their familiar handwriting or with a high-demanding cursive uppercase calligraphy. Experiment 1 investigated narrative writing, a task with low planning demands. Experiment 2 addressed essay writing, a task with stronger planning demands. Occurrences of processes and their cognitive effort were analysed by asking participants to respond to random auditory probes and then to report their ongoing mental activity according to learned categories referring to the planning, translating, and revising writing processes. All together, the findings indicate that demands on planning did not affect how writing processes were activated during pauses and execution periods but automaticity of handwriting did. When handwriting was effortless, translating was mostly activated in parallel with motor execution, whereas revising and planning were mainly activated during pauses. However, none of the writing processes could be characterised as being typical of pauses, since translating was activated to a similar extent as the other two processes. By contrast, when handwriting was effortful, participants shifted to a more sequential functioning and activated translating mainly during pauses.

Keywords: Cognitive effort; Execution periods; Pause; Writing; Writing processes

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Universite de Poitiers, Poitiers,Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris, France 2: Universidade do Porto, Porto, Portugal

Publication date: July 1, 2008


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