Jul 11, 2008

Neurological effect of information overload

They are numerous studies to suggest that information overload makes us dumber: Persons exposed to excessive amounts of information are less productive, prone to make bad decisions, and risk suffering serious stress-related diseases.

University of London researcher Glenn Wilson showed in a 2005 study that people taking an IQ test while being interrupted by emails and phone calls performed an average of 10 points lower than the baseline group without those interruptions.

A frightening footnote to this study is that another test group had been tested after smoking marijuana, and they only performed an average of 4 points lower than the baseline group – from which one might reasonably conclude that persistent interruptions have a two-and-a-half times more detrimental effect on the brain than smoking marijuana.

Some studies have shown that sufferers of information overload:

* Suffer distraction, inner frenzy, and impatience.

* Have difficulty staying organized, setting priorities, and managing time.

* Become highly selective and ignore a large amount of information or give up and don’t go beyond the first results in many cases.

* Need more time to reach a decision.

* Procastinate.

* Make mistakes.

* Have difficulties in identifying the relationship between the details and the overall perspective.

* Waste time.


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