At Memzy, we complete brain science research projects because evidence beats opinion. This is our mantra when we set to figure out how humans pay attention, remember, and decide to act. We are excited about cognitive and behavioral research, but equally thrilled to peak underneath the human skull and detect what happens beyond conscious self-appraisal and observing someone’s behavior. The examples below detail research projects and findings that we include in our brain science workshops, content design for clients, and keynote presentations.

EEG research

When audiences’ brains are exposed to your content, their neurons are abuzz with a lot of activity. When neurons communicate with each other, they produce brain waves, which oscillate at different frequencies, with rhythmic highs and lows. During our EEG (electroencephalogram) research, we place a set of electrodes on participants’ scalps and capture their brain waves as they are watching and listening to your content. We look for where specific waves occur, if there is coherence between these brain waves, and whether there is symmetry or asymmetry between waves in brain regions responsible for paying attention and forming memories. One of the main benefits of EEG data is its high temporal resolution, meaning that we can detect a reaction to a stimulus when it happens. We can then associate what we observed in the brain with what the stimulus contained and make inferences related to what attracts attention and what helps the brain form memories.

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We also use eye tracking devices to research viewers' focus on a specific message, which correlates with cognitive strategies and memory. For example, pupil dilation is modulated by a region in the brain that controls physiological arousal and attention, and has been used as a measure of task difficulty and mental effort. This is important to know because sometimes, presenters are forgettable because content is too complex and require too much cognitive energy to process. Spontaneous eyeblink rate correlates with levels of dopamine, which is linked to learning and goal-directed behavior. This is important to know because sometimes presenters are memorable because they manage to raise dopamine levels in others' brains, which leads to recall and action.

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Through our eye tracking research on PowerPoint presentations, we can now debunk some myths.

For example, we used to believe that if a presenter was talking and using a busy slide, the audience would either listen to the presenter or read the slide. Now, we can debunk that myth. The brain does neither. It will not focus on the presenter and stare at a blank spot in the PowerPoint slide, which signifies mind-wandering.

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EEG Insights

During research, we work with clients and their audiences to detect what attracts attention in a message, what keeps people engaged, and what they ultimately remember. For example, a client might want to know whether a prospect customer pays attention to specific parts of a sales pitch and remembers the right things a few days later. Once we draw insights from our studies, we also compare them with other existing EEG findings to make sure we are in unison with the scientific community. Here are some findings that are currently fueling the way we advise our clients how to build memorable content:

Audiences forget content when presenters do not confirm and reward beliefs that already exist in their audiences’ brains (key phrase being “reward.”) You forget more when you sense that others “don't get you.”

Business content is often too neutral, meaning that in the absence of strong emotions, electrical signals generated in the brain are too weak to lead to the formation of a memory trace. In other words, most business content leaves us flat.

Encoding and retrieval are different, meaning that presenters something at point A but it’s different than what audiences are likely to see later, at point B. The lesson is to link what you’re sharing at point A to something that is likely to trigger a memory at point B (e.g., an object or a system people are already using).

We used to believe that people forgot about 90% of a presentation after 2 days. The number is more dire than that. Looking at the 9 studies I conducted, the recall rate is less than 1%. This means we have to adopt new habits of presenting if we want our audiences to remember more and to remember the right things.