Information Need Awareness: an EEG study

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution book

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A fundamental goal of Information Retrieval (IR) is to satisfy search­ers' information need (IN). Advances in neuroimaging technologies have allowed for interdisciplinary research to investigate the brain activity associated with the realisation of IN. While these studies have been informative, they were not able to capture the cognitive processes underlying the realisation of IN and the interplay between them with a high temporal resolution. This paper aims to investigate this research question by inferring the variability of brain activity based on the contrast of a state of IN with the two other (no-IN) scenarios. To do so, we employed Electroencephalography (EEG) and constructed an Event-Related Potential (ERP) analysis of the brain signals captured while the participants were experiencing the realisation of IN. In particular, the brain signals of 24 healthy participants were captured while performing a Question-Answering (Q/A) Task. Our results show a link between the early stages of processing, corresponding to awareness and the late activity, meaning memory control mechanisms. Our findings also show that participants exhibited early N1-P2 complex indexing awareness processes and indicate, thus, that the realisation of IN is manifested in the brain before it reaches the user's consciousness. This research contributes novel insights into a better understanding of IN and informs the design of IR systems to better satisfy it.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSIGIR 2022 - Proceedings of the 45th International ACM SIGIR Conference on Research and Development in Information Retrieval
Place of PublicationNew York
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781450387323
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jul 2022
EventSpecial Interest Group on Information Retrieval (SIGIR) 2022 - Madrid, Spain
Duration: 11 Jul 202215 Jul 2022

Publication series

NameSIGIR 2022 - Proceedings of the 45th International ACM SIGIR Conference on Research and Development in Information Retrieval


ConferenceSpecial Interest Group on Information Retrieval (SIGIR) 2022
Internet address


  • information need
  • information retrieval
  • Anomalous State of Knowledge (ASK)
  • memory errors
  • d Electroencephalography (EEG)
  • Event-Related Potentials (ERP)


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