Location: Hypertext Review / User Interface Issues / Introduction / Cognitive Overhead Site Map

1.2 Cognitive Overhead

Cognitive overhead is the additional mental overhead on authors to create name, and keep track of nodes and links. For readers, it is the overhead due to making decisions as to which links to follow and which to abandon, given a large number of choices. The process of pausing (either to jot down required information or to decide which way to go) can be very distracting. It can become a serious problem if there are a large number of nodes and links.

All hypertext systems provide the basic capability of following a uni-directional link to a target node. However, the true potential of hypertext cannot be realized by this approach alone. Considerable amount of research efforts are underway in universities and the computer industry to develop better tools and methods to exploit the full potential of hypertext and also to solve or minimize the problems of disorientation and cognitive overhead.