Neuropsychological model of the realization of information need

Moshfeghi, Yashar and Pollick, Frank E. (2019) Neuropsychological model of the realization of information need. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 70 (9). pp. 954-967. ISSN 2330-1635 (

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The main goal of information retrieval (IR) is to satisfy information need (IN). IN refers to a complex concept: at the very initial state of the phenomenon (that is, at a visceral level), even the searcher may not be aware of its existence. Thus, despite advances in the past few decades in both the IR and relevant scientific communities, we do not fully understand how an IN emerges and how it is physically manifested. In this article we aim to inform a holistic view of the realization of IN using functional magnetic resonance imaging. We collected new data of brain activity of 24 participants while they formulated and stated a realization of IN in a Question Answering task, focusing on a distributed set of brain regions associated with activities related to IN, found in our previous study. Results of a functional connectivity analysis led us to propose a neuropsychological model of the realization of IN. Our model consists of three components: (a) a successful memory retrieval component, (b) an information flow regulation component, and (c) a high-level perception component. We believe this study constitutes an important step in unraveling the nature of IN and how to better satisfy IN.