In an apparent thumbs down to multitasking, researchers at the University of New South Wales in Australia are saying that the human brain is limited in the amount of information it can absorb. Hence, the glazed and distant feeling that overwhelms you when some sales droid starts his/her presentation is no reason for concern. This is because presenting the same information in visual and verbal form, like reading from a typical PowerPoint slide, overloads your memory and makes absorbing information more difficult.
According to Professor John Sweller, the “cognitive load theory” suggests that our memory can deal with two or three tasks for a period of a few seconds. Any more than that and the information starts to get lost. You can download an abstract of Sweller’s work in PDF titled “Visualisation and Instructional Design“.
So the next time your boss asks you to prepare a PowerPoint, ask him to get lost. Sorry, I was multitasking when I posted this.
And the point of it all is?