Brainformative Blog

The Hot Date (aka) Cognitive Load Theory Part 2

You sit down in Starbucks for a first date. You take in their clothes, their hair, their eyes, the sound of their voice, the expressions on their faces all the while your brain is scrambling for those snippets of information you have accumulated.

A last name . . . what is it?

Does she like tea?

Does he drink coffee?   

She speaks.

He thinks what she said might have been funny but is unsure because he missed a couple words under that blistering screech of the milk steamer. A chair scrapes across the concrete. Someone bangs through the door, laughing with friends. The smell of semi burnt coffee beans filters through the air.

He plays the odds and offers a diligent laugh and leans closer to hear better and redoubles his focus. She adjusts her chair closer and leans in. Soon the coffee shop fades into the background eventually ceasing to exist.

The brain has an amazing capacity to delete what it does not need or want. Of the myriad cognitive functions the brain performs it is constantly filtering out the useless and focuses on the  important. The purpose for this deleting function is energy conservation.

The brains higher critical processes use a disproportionate amount of the bodies systemic energy therefore it must be ruthless to weed out stimulus that brings energy overload. At the root, the brain's primary function is to keep you alive and energy management is literally a life and death issue.  And, speaking of life and death issues; this is why the brain can bring focus to a potential mate, so much focus in fact that the rest of the world seems to disappear.

John, wait, is Brainformative a dating service?

No, but it is good advice to avoid dating in noisy places.

The takeaway is this:

The brain is constantly managing Extrinsic Cognitive load, ruthlessly managing the bodies energy stores, deleting the vast amount of perceptions and stimulus every minute of every day.  

The brain reserves its focus for Intrinsic Cognitive Load, for the most important things that it needs to facilitate life.  

Therefore Trainers and SME’s and Presenters must make it a primary objective to eliminate everything that puts a demand on their learners' cognitive load. Trying to do knowledge transfer in a noisy environment is just absurd, and therefore obviously not something that should be done . . . right?

But what isn’t obvious. Is displaying waaaay to much information in diagrams. Or showing complex images and also expecting the learner to listen while studying the image. Or even worse, showing a diagram, talking and asking the learner to write notes  . . at the same time.

Trainers, SME’s, Presenters, your mission should you choose to accept it, is to relentlessly weed out of the environment from the knowledge transfer process and to eliminate everything from the presentation that places competing demands on the learners ' learning state.

Here is today's takeaway:

If you don’t manage the Extrinsic and Intrinsic cognitive load factors, I guarantee that when the learner hits their attention threshold they will start deleting what you are saying and focus on the hot date sitting beside them.  

PS. Stay tuned for Part 3 a sneak peek into Brainformatives upcoming course: Death by Bullet Point  . . . No More!