‘Cognitive Load’ is a theory developed in the 1980s by a psychologist called John Sweller. It refers to working (short term) memory.
Cognitive Load Theory is a good way to describe how much ‘load’ there is on the brain, i.e. how much mental effort is being used at any given time. When a person is learning, the most efficient way to learn is to reduce the cognitive load so that information will be retained – and more easily stored in the long term memory – with the least mental effort involved.
In this article we will look at the process of learning, the types of load, how they are influenced by autism, and how the load can be reduced in people with autism.