Dear Online Ads, Stop Popping Up!

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online pop up ads reduce attention span

Online Pop-Up Ads are a great source of annoyance to a lot of people. The ads make readers lose their concentration by causing a massive drop in their brain activity, say researchers from Pomeranian University of Technology, Poland. The researchers studied 5 Polish men and 1 woman between the ages of 20 and 25 years. The group was asked to read a total of 10 short pages of a random text on a computer screen. Following the reading, they were supposed to ask questions relating to the content.

During the experiment, the readers were subjected to a number of online advertisements which randomly popped up. EEG was used to measure the brain activities of the subjects. The signal pattern of each subject was observed. Researchers also analyzed how consistent the signal pattern was across different trials and how they correlated with other people’s signal pattern who were also a part of the same experiment.

Two main effects surfaced. First, online advertisements influenced concentration in significant ways as the beta activity reduced in the frontal/prefrontal cortical areas of the brain. The random appearance of the advertisements also induced changes in the frontal/prefrontal asymmetry index.

One thing that has to be noted here is that there was a difference in the direction of change as in some cases it dipped and in others in increased. Researchers gave motivation predisposition as a reason for such a difference among participants’ results.

If the subject is more ‘approach’ oriented, the changes in the asymmetry index might reflect growing activity in the left brain hemisphere,” said Izabela Rejer from Pomeranian University of Technology. “If, on the other hand, the subject is more ‘withdraw’ oriented, these changes might reflect the growing activity in the right hemisphere,” Rejer added.

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