Delays in Information Presentation Lead to Brain State Switching, Which Degrades User Performance, and There May Not Be Much We Can Do about It

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Publication History

Received: July 30, 2021
Revised: March 1, 2022; November 12, 2022; April 25, 2023
Accepted: July 14, 2023
Published Online in Issue: March 1, 2024

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System delays are a major factor that harms user experience. Long delays often result in system abandonment, decreased user performance, and lost revenue for businesses. Although studies have provided important contributions on the consequences of delays, less is known about why system delays harm the user experience. Using fMRI, we examined how long system delays—compared to short delays—can change a user’s brain state. Results showed that brain state switching was more likely during a long delay than during a short delay. Brain state switching was also more likely at the beginning of a task following a long delay than following a short delay. The default-mode network (brain regions associated with inattention) was more active during long delays than when users were engaged in the task. Furthermore, long delays were significantly related to worsened performance as measured in decision time in the task following a delay. This effect was mediated by brain state switching at the beginning of the task after the delay. We also attempted four different system design interventions to overcome this and found partial mitigation, but none eliminated the negative effect of delays.

Additional Details
Author Kevin A. Harmon, Hansol Lee, Bahar Javadi Khasraghi, Harshit S. Parmar, and Eric A. Walden
Year 2024
Volume 48
Issue 1
Keywords Brain state switching, NeuroIS, fMRI, system delays, delays, interventions, user performance
Page Numbers 273-298
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