Fragments from imaginary dialogues
“What is cognitive overload?”
“We can only process a limited amount of information at any one time – this is called working memory.
The demand placed upon working memory is called cognitive load.
Too much demand is called cognitive overload.
Most of the time you want to reduce cognitive overload. I call this process, decluttering.
There are situations however when you want to increase cognitive overload.”
“Why would you want to increase overload?”
“Think of the brain-twister games used during improvisation warm-up. Their purpose is to put you in a resourceful state by quieting the mind and silencing the inner critic. The way they achieve it is through cognitive overload. By giving you something to focus on and too much to process at once, they draw you in the present moment.
Or think of the Learning State from NLP – also called Hakalau, after a Hawaiian meditation practice. The practice involves focusing on a point slightly above eye level and, at the same time, gradually expanding your awareness to include more and more things in the environment around you, using all your senses. This produces cognitive overload, deeply drawing you in the present moment.
I call this process, deliberate overload.“