Can images stop data overload? | Creativity and learning |
With more and more of us feeling overwhelmed by the constant stream of information we have to deal with at work, could data visualisation provide an answer?

In a lab in Sussex a group of people have had their brainwaves scanned while completing a series of tasks, individually and in groups, to see if data visualisation - presenting information visually, in this case a series of mind maps - can help.

The results showed that when tasks were presented visually rather than using traditional text-based software applications, individuals used around 20% less cognitive resources. In other words, their brains were working a lot less hard.

As a result, they performed more efficiently, and could remember more of the information when asked later. Working in groups, they used 10% less mental resources.

The research was carried out by Mindlab International, an independent research company that specialises in neurometrics - the science of measuring patterns of brain activity through EEG, eye tracking and skin conductivity, which tracks emotions.

"The key reason we do the work that we do is that most of our decision making, yours and mine, goes on in the subconscious, or auto pilot or whatever we call it. Our cognitive brain can't actually deal with the bombardment of messages that are streamed to our bodies constantly all the time," says Duncan Smith, Mindlab International's managing director.

Individuals and groups had their brainwaves monitored as they completed tasks using visual mapping software compared with traditional applications