Feeds

Official: Powerpoint bad for brains

Menace of slideware

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Anyone who's been a victim of "death by Powerpoint" - that glazed and distant feeling that overwhelms you when some sales droid starts their presentation - will be reassured by Aussie researchers who've discovered biological reasons for the feeling.

Humans just don't like absorbing information verbally and visually at the same time - one or the other is fine but not both simultaneously.

Researchers at the University of New South Wales in Australia found the brain is limited in the amount of information it can absorb - and presenting the same information in visual and verbal form - like reading from a typical Powerpoint slide - overloads this part of memory and makes absorbing information more difficult.

Professor Sweller said: "The use of the PowerPoint presentation has been a disaster. It should be ditched.

"It is effective to speak to a diagram, because it presents information in a different form. But it is not effective to speak the same words that are written, because it is putting too much load on the mind and decreases your ability to understand what is being presented."

The theory of "cognitive load theory" suggest the memory can deal with two or three tasks for a period of a few seconds - any more than that and information starts to get lost.

There's more from the Sydney Morning Herald here, or there's an abstract of Sweller's work (pdf) here.

Professor John Sweller is not the first to question the overarching power of Powerpoint. Edward Tufte is a professor emeritus at Yale and an information and interface design expert. His 2003 book The Cognitive Style of Powerpoint: Pitching Out Corrupts Within makes similar claims. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
Sway: Microsoft's new Office app doesn't have an Undo function
Content aggregation, meet the workplace ... oh
Sign off my IT project or I’ll PHONE your MUM
Honestly, it’s a piece of piss
Return of the Jedi – Apache reclaims web server crown
.london, .hamburg and .公司 - that's .com in Chinese - storm the web server charts
NetWare sales revive in China thanks to that man Snowden
If it ain't Microsoft, it's in fashion behind the Great Firewall
Chrome 38's new HTML tag support makes fatties FIT and SKINNIER
First browser to protect networks' bandwith using official spec
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.