Older brains less nimble at multi-tasking – Study. What Should Businesses Do About It?

Want to keep older customers engaged throughout the purchase cycle? 1) Avoid distractions and 2) Make things clear and simple.

These are my simplistic, marketing-oriented interpretations of findings just released from by neuroscientists from the University of California at San Francisco UCSF.L as reported here by Reuters.JPEG

The elderly have a harder time multi-tasking than young adults because they are far less nimble at switching neurological connections in their brains between activities, according to the research.

They measured brain activity during controlled multi-tasking experiments, comparing the performance of men and women whose average age was 24 with a second group who averaged 69 years of age.

Researchers found the brains of older subjects were less capable of disengaging from the interruption and re-establishing the neural connections necessary to switch back to focusing on the original memory. Some experts had speculated older people become more deeply engaged in what interrupts them, making it harder for them to shift their focus back to the original task at hand.

So what implications for businesses? Here are a few common errors:

  • Distracting flash and animation on websites.
  • Confusing, jargon-laden messaging.
  • Clutter at point-of-sale both in terms of store layout and over-choice.
  • Complex user interfaces, instructions on products and devices.
  • Surprises.

The list goes on……..

In our SilverAudit we measure this aspect using the parameters of ‘Complexity’ and ‘Comprehension’.