Belmont University Research Symposium (BURS)

Distractibility of Subtitles on Visual Attention and Working Memory

Publication Date



Sciences and Mathematics, College of


Psychological Science, Department of

BURS Faculty Advisor

Michael Oliver

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation


While viewing a video, human beings are required to process many components that require attention and memory to work simultaneously. For example, individuals must pay attention to audio and visual information while storing that information in memory to connect with each scene. At times, this overload of information may negatively impact performance due to increases in cognitive load. However, although providing additional context, theoretically increasing cognitive load, it has been thought that the use of subtitles may actually aid in performance. For example, research shows that the presence of subtitles is associated with less frustration (Kruger, Hefer, & Matthew, 2013), and may be superior to video during auditory lessons (Zheng, Ye, & Hsiao, 2022). However, it is less understood whether the presence of subtitles affects visual memory recall. The study will examine whether subtitles impact a subject’s ability to recall visual components of a video. The control group will watch a video with no audio or subtitles, and then be asked to recall visual information. The experimental group will watch the same video with subtitles, and then be asked to recall the same visual information. Based on the accuracy of the visual recall assessment, the study will reveal whether subtitles are a distractor to visual memory recall.

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